By Miles Chambers
There's a popular chant which suggests Newcastle United will have "a riot on their hands" if they dare to sell Yohan Cabaye, such is the adoration on Tyneside for the elegant midfielder. As he packs his bags for French shores after an impressive two-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League, Paris Saint-Germain fans have a new hero to worship.
With an already packed centre-midfield including the talented Marco Verratti, France's Blaise Matuidi, battle-hardened veteran Thiago Motta and the promising Adrien Rabiot, some Parc des Princes attendees might be wondering what the point is in forking out on a €25 million deal.
In fact, influential figures at les Parisiens such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva have reportedly registered their disagreement at adding the France international to PSG's project. But the pair - and every PSG supporter - will come to realise the qualities he can bring to the three-man midfield, even if it means sacrificing a familiar face from Laurent Blanc's line-up.
He can bolster defensive confidence by dropping deep and dictating play from the back. Cabaye is in his element when pulling the strings in midfield, but also excels in protecting his defenders from being caught unawares on the counter-attack or being overrun in midfield. His temperament is often lacking but, on the other hand, there has never been any doubt about his commitment in getting stuck in at St James' Park.
|CABAYE'S NEWCASTLE IMPACT
More recently, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has given Cabaye licence to roam in a No.10 role which the 28-year-old has lapped up with relish. The way he made Manchester United's midfield look like lost puppies at Old Trafford - scoring the only goal after wreaking havoc between the lines - was testament to his talent.
In August, the Magpies boss singled out Cabaye as among the best players on the planet following Arsenal's failed attempts at bringing him to the Emirates Stadium. “You want to keep hold of your best players and Yohan is one of the best in the world,” Pardew raved. Ultimately, he accepted that his star man would leave in January, but his appreciation of the Frenchman has never wavered.
He was pivotal in the Magpies' unexpected Champions League charge in 2011-12 and now he will be able to test his talents on the top European stage once again. A three-man midfield of Matuidi, Verratti and Cabaye has the potential to stand toe-to-toe with most teams on the continent, especially considering the plethora of talent they have ahead of them in attack.
The former Lille captain is definitely a Blanc-inspired signing. Whereas Edinson Cavani in the summer was club-driven, Cabaye was regularly used when the current PSG coach was in charge of the France national side and has been mentioned frequently by the former Manchester United defender. He has nothing to prove to his new mentor, even if he will he will have to win over some of his doubters from inside and outside the Parc des Princes.
It is a test Cabaye will have no problem in passing. As the echoes of "don't sell Cabaye" become a distant memory at Newcastle, the midfielder will stamp his mark on one of the world's biggest clubs and play an important role in PSG's transformation from Champions League pretenders to contenders.