Arsenal have confirmed the homecoming of midfielder Mathieu Flamini after Newcastle boss Alan Pardew revealed on Thursday he expects Yohan Cabaye to return to his starting XI for this weekend’s clash with Fulham.
The Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel reported Flamini's three-year deal at the Emirates, signed five years after he left for AC Milan, and his arrival could signal the end of Arsene Wenger's chase for Newcastle's French international.
Wenger confirmed the Flamini agreement on Arsenal's official website:
We’re very pleased Mathieu has agreed to re-join us. He is a player of real quality, with a fantastic work rate and great mentality.
As we know, Mathieu is a strong midfielder, but is also is comfortable playing in defence too. He is a very good addition to our squad.
A similar player to Cabaye, former AC Milan midfielder Flamini provides protection for the back four and is a good user of the ball, and it was always likely to be a case of one-or-the-other between the two individuals.
Flamini becomes Arsenal's second signing of the summer, following the earlier capture of Yaya Sanogo, and now Pardew hopes his talismanic midfielder can refocus on Newcastle.
Alan Pardew expects Yohan Cabaye to return to Newcastle team for Saturday's game against Fulham #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 29, 2013
Cabaye is yet to feature for Newcastle this season after having his head turned by an approach from the Gunners earlier in the campaign, but Pardew's revelation that he will return to the Magpies fold is a signal that he will likely remain at St James' Park beyond the summer transfer window.
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Pardew initially left Cabaye out of his side for Newcastle’s opening fixture at Manchester City, claiming the player was not in the right frame of mind to play just hours before kick-off.
The Magpies rejected Arsenal’s offer, believed to be worth between £10-12 million, but Cabaye has remained sidelined amid speculation of a move either to the Gunners or French side PSG.
Pardew addressed the media on Thursday to deliver an update on the all-action midfielder, revealing for the first time via Joe Mewis of the Daily Mirror that Cabaye is mentally ready to resume footballing duties for the club.
What I have said to Yohan Cabaye is I expect him to play this weekend. Until another bid comes in from Arsenal that is accepted or not that will be the situation.
While Pardew’s words are not exactly an emphatic statement that Cabaye will stay, it seems unthinkable that the player’s mental state would have stabilised so close to deadline day, if he still planned to leave Newcastle.
And with Arsenal's Flamini announcement, it would seem the vacancy at the base of the Gunners' midfield has now been filled.