Joe Kinnear, the Newcastle United interim manager, has insisted that he is intent on strengthening his squad after telling the midfielder Charles N'Zogbia that he will not be sold. Kinnear was furious to read reports from France linking the unsettled 22-year-old Frenchman with a move to Paris Saint-Germain in January.
Kinnear knows that he may need to sell before he can set about the task of bolstering the squad he inherited from Kevin Keegan should he remain in charge when the transfer window opens. However, Kinnear is adamant that none of the players who contributed to Saturday's morale-boosting 0-0 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea will become available, and that includes N'Zogbia.
"Charles N'Zogbia is not going anywhere," Kinnear said. "He is still part of my plans and he still has a future at this football club, and talk of me granting him a transfer is not only incorrect, it is absolute rubbish. My aim, whatever time I have here, is to build up our squad and not to get rid of any of our first-team players. And I do not like to be told via the media that one of my players wants to leave.
"If Charles N'Zogbia – or anyone else for that matter – has a problem, they should come to see me first. I have only been here a short time [two months], but in that time, I have found out that this is a great football club with wonderful fans, and they deserve better than this.
"N'Zogbia was happy to sign a five-year contract just 14 months ago at, I am told, improved terms, and he should honour it." The suggestion that N'Zogbia is agitating for a move is something with which successive Newcastle managers been forced to deal with. In the past there has been speculation linking him with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Indeed, Keegan admitted that within weeks of his return to the club in January that the Frenchman had told him that he wanted to leave, although the manager persuaded him otherwise before his own untimely departure in September.
N'Zogbia's talent is unquestionable. Sir Bobby Robson, the former Newcastle manager, staged something of a coup to prise him away from Le Havre as a teenager in September 2004, and the club had to fight through the courts to retain his services.
However, the left-winger has played much of his recent football for the club as an emergency left-back, a role he clearly does not enjoy, and with Jose Enrique and Sebastien Bassong having shared those duties under Kinnear, he has been marginalised.
Damien Duff's form and the return of summer signing Jonas Gutierrez from injury have limited his opportunities in the past month, and he has had to make do with brief cameos as a substitute in the last two games.
Kinnear has already drawn up and submitted his own list of transfertargets because a deal to sell the club, and therefore a decision on his future, looks increasingly unlikely until well into the new year.
Mike Ashley, the owner, faces a big decision with a new and more focussed recruitment drive essential if the club are to drag themselves away from the fight for top-flight survival.
Even Saturday's heroics at Stamford Bridge could not prevent Newcastle from being sucked back into the relegation-zone after Wigan Athletic's 1-0 victory over Everton on Monday night, a predicament that may become familiar to the interim manager.
"It's a crazy situation," Kinnear said. "We get a great point at Chelsea and then find we have moved into the bottom three. It all shows just what a topsy-turvy situation it is at the bottom of the league."
Goals scored by Charles N'Zogbia for Newcastle United in 144 games. They are undefeated in the eight league matches that he has scored in.Reuse content