Romain Amalfitano set for Newcastle transfer as the French connection continues

Reims midfielder becomes first of three new signings from Ligue 1 to arrive at St James'

Newcastle United took the latest step in their successful French revolution yesterday when Romain Amalfitano arrived in the North-east to finalise a three-year contract. The Stade de Reims midfielder agreed in principle to move to Newcastle in February, and he returned to their Benton training ground to push through his transfer from the French side, who have just won promotion to Ligue 1.

Amalfitano, 22, has seen out his contract at Reims, which has appealed to Newcastle officials as they push ahead with the astute transfer policy put in place by the owner Mike Ashley, and successfully incorporated through the chief scout, Graham Carr.

Newcastle have seven France-born players, ranging from first-teamers such as Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa to youngsters such as Yven Moyo and Mehdi Abeid. They believe the market in France offers far better value for money, with salaries in the French top division for the season 2010-11 half those in the Premier League.

As examples, Cabaye and Ben Arfa, who were key players in the club's eventual fifth-place finish in the Premier League and resultant qualification for the Europa League, cost far less than £10m in total, arriving from Lille and Marseilles respectively.

Amalfitano, the brother of Morgan, also a midfielder who moved to Marseilles last summer and has been included in the provisional France squad for the forthcoming European Championship, is expected to be pushing for a first-team role next season. Newcastle will not end their interest in France with his signing, either, as they hope to buy two further players from Ligue 1 during the summer transfer window.

The club have already been involved in talks with the Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. The 23-year-old has just helped his team land the title in France, for the first time, and there is huge interest in dismantling a side that was put together for very little.

Newcastle are aware they face competition for the central defender, but believe they currently lead the race to land Yanga-Mbiwa as he has indicated he is keen to move to the club.

There is also an approach to Lille to sign their full-back Mathieu Debuchy. The 26-year-old bid an emotional farewell to his club's supporters on Sunday following their 4-1 victory over Nancy. That is seen as the surest indication yet that he is ready to end his 18-year association with Lille, whom he joined as an eight-year-old. That Debuchy is such a good friend of Cabaye is seen as a huge advantage to Newcastle, as they search for a new right-back.

The three moves continue what Newcastle now believe to be a far superior model to that which was used when Ashley first bought the club in 2007, and indeed to the ones used in most Premier League clubs. Carr has an excellent knowledge of French and Dutch football and has pinpointed a handful of players he believes are ready to make an impact in England.

The FC Twente defender Douglas was another who was the subject of good reports, but talks stalled due to the number of representatives the player had, a fact that has been a difficulty in negotiations with Demba Ba, who could still leave Newcastle this summer for around £7m.

Danny Simpson's long-running contract battle at St James' Park looks set to end with the former Manchester United defender leaving this summer. He is likely to be joined by Danny Guthrie, who had interested Aston Villa before they sacked Alex McLeish.

One player who could yet return to Newcastle – and in doing so highlight why they adopted their current policy in the market – is the Spanish forward Xisco, signed on the recommendation of Dennis Wise in 2008. Xisco was loaned to Deportivo La Coruna last season, but as there is no desire to make the deal permanent (his wages are £2.5m per year) he could yet return for the final 12 months of his contract.

Carr's targets to buy

Romain Amalfitano

Born 27 August 1989, Nice, France

Position Attacking midfielder

Club career

2009-10 Evian; 22 games, three goals

2010-12 Reims; 58 games, six goals

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

23-year-old is a versatile defender who has just helped Montpellier win Ligue 1 and has been capped by France Under-21s. France international Mathieu Debuchy, 26, plays at right-back for Lille, where he won the double in 2010-11.

Foreign Legion: Newcastle's French contingent

Hatem Ben Arfa

Age 25

Position Midfielder

Signed from Marseilles (initial loan), Aug 2010

Yven Moyo

Age 20

Position Midfielder

Signed Sochaux B, September 2010

Yohan Cabaye

Age 26

Position Midfielder

Signed Lille, June 2011

Sylvain Marveaux

Age 26

Position Midfielder

Signed Rennes, June 2011

Gabriel Obertan

Age 23

Position Midfielder

Signed Manchester United, August 2011

Mehdi Abeid (Algerian, born in Montreuil, Fr)


Position Midfielder

Signed Lens, May 2011

Demba Ba (Senegalese, born in Paris, Fr)


Position Striker

Signed Free agent, June 2011

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas