Newcastle say farewell to Robert with heavy fine

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The Independent Football

Newcastle United yesterday fined their departing Frenchman Laurent Robert two weeks wages after the player was critical of the club's manager, Graeme Souness.

The 30-year-old Frenchman, who remains a Newcastle player until his move to Portsmouth comes into force on Friday, was punished over his comments.

"Newcastle United ... fined Laurent Robert two weeks wages for a breach of club discipline," the club said. "It follows a newspaper article containing comments attributed to the Frenchman criticising ... Graeme Souness."

Robert will spend the final year of his Newcastle contract on loan at Fratton Park and has agreed a two-year deal to follow that.

"Souness put kids in the team and left me on the bench to annoy me," Robert is reported to have said in the article. "We would have won the Uefa Cup last season if Souness had possessed the intelligence. But we lost in the quarter-finals to Sporting Lisbon and in my opinion, he has never been a great manager. If he keeps going like he has been, he will quite simply get fired. And he will deserve it."

Souness replied: "I would like to wish Laurent Robert all the best at Portsmouth."

Newcastle were yesterday negotiating with Internazionale as they attempted to beat Everton to the signature of the Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu. The Magpies are understood to have agreed personal terms with the 24-year-old and are in talks over a fee with Inter, where Emre is under contract for two more seasons.

Everton are also in contact with Inter, while the Turkish international's agent, Ahmet Bulut, yesterday claimed a third Premiership club have entered the race to sign him. Newcastle remain confident of reaching agreement with Inter and believe they can push through a deal within days, regardless of the fresh interest from the unidentified club.

"Right now, there are three clubs and two of them are talking with Inter Milan," Bulut said. "Newcastle and Everton are two of the clubs, but the other one I cannot name. Fenerbahce did express an interest, but the player will play next year in England."