To whom am I referring? Well, Yohan Cabaye of course. A great, great player and one of the finest to wear the black and white stripes in many a year. Can it really be ten years ago since he held that shirt above his head? Yes, it can be.
Coming in from Lille on an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be about £5m) he signed a 5-year contract and it wasn’t long before he became a firm fan’s favourite. Fantastic creative ability, great leadership skills, able to control a game and he could take a free kick as well.
He only got half-way through his contract before he left for PSG for £19m. A lot of fans thought he’d gone for the money, a lot of fans thought he’d shown no loyalty and a lot of fans never forgave him. There’s no doubt at the time he left he was one of the most influential players in The Premier League.
But for a French international a move to PSG was a dream move for him and we got a decent profit for a player that was clearly set on moving on. Arsenal had previously tried to buy him supposedly for £10m but the Toon turned that down. For once we resisted an overture.
The lure of PSG was too much to resist for Cabaye and the £19m cheque too much for Mike Ashley to turn down. Money being much more important to our owner than keeping a fan favourite. That said had we turned it down would Cabaye have been happy to stay.
We’ll never know the answer to that but two things are certain. One NUFC have never got close to bringing in a player in his position that is better since he left and the second is that we know things didn’t work out for him at PSG.
Should we have been back in for him when he became available again? Personally, I would have. His performances for Palace may not have been as high a standard as his time at NUFC but I still believe we should have brought him back.
I remember actually seeing him play in a game against Stoke City where he scored a brace in a 3 – 0 win and completely dominated the game from start to finish. He was outstanding that day and I remember thinking as I drove home that it was as good an individual performance as I’d see from a Toon player in many a year.
And I suspect many, many will remember the 1 – 0 win at Man. United when he scored and the “Yohan Cabaye” song about not selling him became legendary and very loud. Unfortunately, the cry fell on deaf ears and he was soon gone never to be satisfactorily replaced.