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With Xhaka Hopes Fading, Will Newcastle Turn Back To French Dynamo?



It’s been widely reported over the past month or so that Steve Bruce would like to add another central midfielder to his ranks in January. We have been linked with a few players like Spartak Moscow’s Alex Kral and Strasbourg’s Ibrahima Sissoko.

However, that was before the shock revelation that Steve Bruce wanted to bring Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka to Newcastle on loan in January. A few short weeks ago it seemed a certainty that Xhaka would be leaving Arsenal this winter.

Ibrahima Sissoko– Newcastle close to a deal?

However, Arsenal boss Unai Emery opened the door to a return for the 27-year-old midfielder. He had this to say last week about his former captain:

“He is coming back better in his mind. His mindset is better to help us and to be closer to playing when we need him. I spoke to him this morning and we had a very good conversation.

“My objective is going to be [to use] his comeback to help us and to convince every supporter of his commitment with us and [that] his performances will be better and they will be proud of him in the long or short future with us.

“We are going to decide tomorrow but I want to do that comeback, give him confidence and make him comfortable. And when we can connect with our supporters with a good moment and a good performance, being strong with them.”

He decided against involving Xhaka in Saturday’s disappointing 2-2 draw at the Emirates against Southampton. However, he has taken the unusual step of allowing his players to vote for who they would like to be the skipper. The players have opted to stick with Granit Xhaka leaving a murky situation even more unclear.

We’ll see what happens on Thursday as Frankfurt fly to London for a Europa League match. Though if Emery is committed to bringing back the Swiss international, he may prefer to do it for an away fixture at first. Arsenal will travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City this weekend so that might be an opportune time to reintroduce Xhaka into the team.

So with Xhaka apparently edging closer to an Arsenal return, the chances of Newcastle getting him on loan are looking very remote. We will likely turn our attentions elsewhere and possibly to one of the players we are said to have scouted.

There was some interesting information provided by journalist Alan Nixon yesterday in regards to one of our midfield targets. A report in the Chronicle shared a tweet from Nixon about Strasbourg’s 22-year-old dynamo Ibrahima Sissoko.

When about Newcastle’s continuing interest in the midfielder, Nixon responded with the following tweet.

Newcastle were said to have been in discussions for the 6’4″ Frenchman at the end of October. The fee mentioned at the time was £13m.

The Chronicle followed up with a report citing sources from Strasbourg that Newcastle had not made any contact for the midfielder. However, Newcastle had opened discussions with the player’s intermediaries.

It seems Sissoko would be a replacement for Mo Diame who Steve Bruce reportedly would have liked to have kept at Newcastle. There is also recent talk that Bruce wants to offload Ki Sung-yueng in January so Sissoko could take his place in the 25-man squad.

Sissoko remains an interesting proposition for January. He has made 16 appearances for Strasbourg this season and is contracted until 2022. He is also a French under-21 international. At just 22-years-old, he definitely fits the profile of a player Newcastle would pursue.