Newcastle lifted by signing French prodigy N'Zogbia

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The Independent Online

Newcastle United have put the controversy over the future of Sir Bobby Robson behind them for now by signing one of the hottest properties in French football.

Newcastle United have put the controversy over the future of Sir Bobby Robson behind them for now by signing one of the hottest properties in French football.

Only days after it was confirmed that Robson will not be manager at St James' Park beyond next season, the Magpies signed 18-year-old Charles N'Zogbia from Le Havre, beating off competition from a number of other European clubs. The left-sided midfielder has been training on Tyneside for the last few weeks, but United have kept his presence quiet.

The player, who was expected to break into the French club's first team this season, had been identified through United's scouting network, headed by their chief scout, Charlie Woods. Work was continuing yesterday to secure international clearance and complete the remaining paperwork.

With ongoing efforts to land a right-back before the start of the new season, there was reason to be cheerful at St James' Park after a difficult 48 hours.

Robson has insisted that he knew nothing about his impending departure as revealed by the chairman, Freddy Shepherd, but it surprised few who have followed the club's progress closely over the last few months.

Marseille have revealed that their interest in signing Laurent Robert is at an end, while United have had no contact with Espanyol, who have also been linked with the Frenchman.

Newcastle travel to Celtic for their latest pre-season friendly tonight with striker Patrick Kluivert and midfielder Nicky Butt set for further action as they attempt to gain full match fitness before their Premiership opener at Middlesbrough.

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