- Premier League
Valbuena's agent denies Newcastle move talk
Mathieu Valbuena's agent has once again declared that his client will not follow the well-trodden path between Ligue 1 and Newcastle United, claiming French players' penchant for the Magpies is "just a fad".
Christophe Hutteau stated last week that Valbuena, 28, would "not leave Marseille for Newcastle", and would only consider quitting the Stade Velodrome for "one of the two Manchester clubs" in the Premier League.
Though a number of Ligue 1 players - most recently Mathieu Debuchy - have joined Alan Pardew's squad, and many remain linked with a move to St James' Park - such as Valbuena's Marseille team-mate Loic Remy - Hutteau has again insisted the diminutive France international midfielder will not be following them.
"He wouldn't go. You don't leave Marseille to go and play for Newcastle," he told radio station RMC. "It's just a fad. There was Arsenal, today it's Newcastle, tomorrow it'll be Liverpool or Chelsea."
Hutteau's comments were taken one step further by fellow agent Frederic Guerra who told RMC: "It's the exotic club par excellence. You go there for the money and nothing else. It's been years since Newcastle won anything."
While Marseille manager Elie Baup claims Remy, whose representatives - according to L'Equipe - held talks with Newcastle on Wednesday, is "still showing his desire to stay at Marseille", Valbuena himself is equally keen to emphasise he is content with his lot on the Mediterranean coast.
"Calm down, calm down. I don't ask people to talk about me. I'm very happy at Marseille and focussed on my season," Valbuena said in an interview with L'Equipe. "I'm in a great club in magnificent conditions. My ambitions remain intact. I'm not looking to make things easy by staying at Marseille. On the contrary."
Though already under contract to 2015, Valbuena has made public his desire to add a further two years to that deal and help repay the debt he feels he owes the club which gave him his opportunity in the professional game after he was rejected by Bordeaux as a youngster.
He has already contributed significantly to Marseille's excellent league campaign to date, laying on six goals and scoring twice, helping leave his club in third place, level on points with leaders Paris Saint Germain and second-placed Lyon before the French top-flight re-starts after its winter break on Friday. However, Valbuena remains guarded about his club's chances of pipping either of their rivals to the Ligue 1 title.
"We set out with a limited squad. We're doing what we can with what we've got," he said. "The main objective is to get back into the Champions League, for the club but also so that the passion is reborn. Let's say that we're going to try and irritate Lyon and PSG for as long as possible."