Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote has left little to the imagination with his latest comments, clearly designed to reignite the interests of an Arsenal side growing desperate to land a player in the Ivorian’s defensive-midfield mould.
“I want to leave. I’ve spent four years with Newcastle. I think I have reached a stage where it’s maybe time to look elsewhere for a new challenge,” he said.
Rather than be content with the standard “new challenge” line, Tiote pushed the boat right out with his overtly subtle come-and-get-me plea.
“It is true there were contacts for me from Arsenal and a club in Russia. I’d prefer to stay in England,” he added.
Whether or not this request will register with Arsene Wenger, busy celebrating 18 years at the Arsenal helm, is another matter.
Newcastle fans will understandably be disgusted, but at least in 22-year-old Nice midfielder Nampalys Mendy, the Magpies may be getting a fine long-term replacement.
On the eve of another crunch Champions League tie, where the Gunners are 4/7 for victory, the debate over Arsenal’s lack of a top-class midfield spoiler rages on.
For now Wenger is still ploughing on with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini swapping duties, while Abou Diaby’s return to fitness is being treated with the correct amount of suspicion.
Even if Diaby can stay fit for anything getting close to resembling a season, the rangy Frenchman would still have to curve some of his natural ambitions to go roving into attack.
Tiote’s proposed availability is sure to divide Gooner opinion, but sometimes beggars cannot be choosers and the outspoken Ivorian would definitely be an improvement on Wenger’s current stock.
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