Sol Campbell is expected to sign for Newcastle United today, having surprisingly snubbed his former club, Arsenal. The former England central defender had been expected to agree a 12-month deal with the Gunners after he impressed on his return to North London last season but that prospect was all but over last night.
Campbell had a medical at St James' Park yesterday morning and, all being well, will sign a two-year deal today, as Newcastle seek a successful return to the Premier League.
A key factor in Campbell's choice of Newcastle is though to be his recent marriage to Fiona Barratt, who is based in the North-east. The pair married in Northumberland this month and she is reportedly keen to start a family in her native region. Campbell has only recently returned from his honeymoon. He was also disappointed that the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger would only offer him a 12-month contract.
The 35-year-old defender has been out of contract since his deal with Arsenal ran out this summer and had been linked with Sunderland as well as Celtic.
The Newcastle manager, Chris Hughton, has concerns over his defence heading into the new season, with the club awaiting to discover the extent of Steven Taylor's shoulder injury. Hughton is so concerned that he has offered Campbell the club captaincy – and with it the guarantee of first-team football – in order to secure his signature. "If I look at what we've got at this moment, defence is probably the area where we're a little bit light," Hughton said recently. "Defensively, we are stretched."
Taylor is set to miss the start of the campaign, which Newcastle begin away to Manchester United on 16 August, but there are fears he could be sidelined for several months, prompting Hughton to move for Campbell.
Sunderland's interest in the former England international diminished in recent weeks after they signed former Magpies defender Titus Bramble from Wigan, while they are also expected to secure John Mensah on loan for another season from Lyon. Hughton knows Campbell reasonably well, having worked with him at Tottenham. Campbell is just four appearances short of becoming the fourth player to play 500 Premier League matches.
Celtic will be disappointed not to have signed Campbell. The Glasgow side offered a two-year contract, worth a reported £35,000-a-week, but Campbell preferred to remain in England.
The central defender made a shock return to the Premier League for a second spell with Arsenal last season, after he had signed for Notts County, then playing in League Two.
Campbell left Notts after just one match before rejoining the Gunners on a short-term deal that expired this summer. He played 14 times after re-joining the club in January.
Campbell would become Newcastle's third signing of the close season following the recruitment of midfielder Dan Gosling who was out of contract after leaving Everton and the versatile defender James Perch from Nottingham Forest.
The former Newcastle and England forward Peter Beardsley has moved from his coaching role within the Magpies' academy to become reserve-team coach, replacing Alan Thompson, who joined Celtic at the end of last season. Former England midfielder Steve Stone will assist Beardsley.
The Sol Man's moves
Sol Campbell has made 496 appearances in an 18-year Premier League career, also winning 73 caps for England.
1992-2001 Joined Tottenham as a trainee. After making his debut as a striker, Campbell played 315 times, captaining the side to the 1999 League Cup.
2001-06 A controversial free transfer to Arsenal followed in 2001. He helped win the Double in his first season, going on to make 197 appearances in five years.
2006-09 Another free transfer followed as Campbell joined Portsmouth. He captained the club to the 2008 FA Cup and led them into Europe.
2009 Portsmouth's financial woes led Campbell to Notts County, where he played just once.
2010 Rejoined Arsenal, making 14 appearances.
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