He spent the summer seeing his name linked with moves to English Premier League rivals Arsenal and French champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to ESPN FC. But when a move did not materialise, the 27-year-old looked as if he faced an uphill task to win the staff and the fans over at St James’ Park.
That is what the French international has done since the start of the season, though, and the former Lille OSC man’s stock is now higher than ever.
PSG are once again being credited with an interest in the midfielder and Cabaye recently dropped a hint to BeIN Sport (h/t ESPN FC) that he would relish a move to the Parc des Princes. However, following his star turn in Saturday’s not-so-surprising win over David Moyes’ Red Devils, the link between the Frenchman and United has once again been reopened.
Cabaye was initially linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer after speaking with Canal+ (h/t Sky Sports), but now many are looking at him as a potential solution to the defending champions’ current woes.
In his current position, though, Cabaye has a lot to lose by taking the wrong step in his next potential move.
At present, he is pretty much a guaranteed starter with Newcastle and a regular with the French national team. It looks as if he will be part of Didier Deschamps’ starting XI going into the World Cup in Brazil next summer.
Newcastle are also just three points away from Manchester City in fourth spot at present, so Champions League qualification come the end of the season is not completely out of the question.
That would appear to be the qualifying criteria behind any potential move on Cabaye’s part, though; given quotes attributed to him by the Daily Mirror (h/t ESPN FC), he wants to be playing European football.
At PSG or Manchester United, that would be possible from February onwards. Both sides have reached the last 16 of the Champions League and Cabaye is not cup-tied because of Newcastle’s lack of continental competition this season.
However, both of those clubs would be risky destinations for the Frenchman at present for a variety of reasons. Remaining on Tyneside until at least the end of the season could be a better idea.
At PSG, Cabaye would potentially be a replacement for fellow French international Blaise Matuidi whose contract situation is becoming a major concern (h/t ESPN FC) in the capital. The Frenchman would arguably be a better fit in place of Thiago Motta, though, as the Italian plays a more withdrawn role.
Even should Matuidi leave, he would not do so until the summer, meaning that Cabaye would have to break into the current midfield three in order to play, which will not be easy based on current form.
PSG have also been linked with a move for Juventus’ Paul Pogba in recent weeks per Football-Italia. Should he arrive in the summer and Motta extend his contract as expected—according to his recent comments to TF1 (h/t ESPN FC)—Cabaye will still find himself in a squad rotation system.
Blanc is a big fan of the man he once called "France’s Xavi," but Cabaye is arguably too similar to the players already on show at the Parc des Princes to be a real priority signing. PSG need a more creative midfielder in the mould of Chelsea’s Juan Mata, with whom they have also been linked recently by the Telegraph (h/t ESPN FC).
At Manchester United, it would be no different.
Although it is arguably the weakest side seen in years at Old Trafford, there are still a number of players in the midfield whom Cabaye would have to beat to a starting position. Belgian international Marouane Fellaini, for one, has endured a troublesome start to his career with the Premier League champions.
The Newcastle man would be well advised to take note of how a move from a club with similar standing to that of the Magpies has impacted upon Fellaini’s reputation. The former Everton man was outstanding at Goodison Park, yet has looked distinctly average since reuniting with Moyes.
Fellaini is arguably "not of Manchester United quality" and the same could perhaps be said of Cabaye. That is by no means disrespectful—both are still good, highly talented players.
Both are, and have been, key for clubs just below the higher echelon of teams in the Premier League. However, moving to one of the EPL’s "big sides" puts everything at risk for players such as Fellaini and Cabaye, who are not of the same calibre as the targets normally sought by teams such as United.
Another case in point are the recent links between United and Ligue 1-based talents Remy Cabella of Montpellier HSC and AS Saint-Etienne’s Kurt Zouma (h/t ESPN FC).
Both have considerable potential, but neither is close to being the finished product and each needs to play for a bigger side (perhaps domestically) before being able to join a club such as United.
Transfer stories like this are the product of a team such as Manchester United struggling in the wake of Alex Ferguson’s departure and are far from reality.
Cabella, a creative midfielder, is playing for a poor Montpellier side battling relegation and would arguably benefit by linking up with Cabaye at a club such as Newcastle when he makes a move. Zouma, a monstrous defensive presence, is, on the other hand, serving a 10-match ban for breaking an opponent’s leg in November.
Neither starlet is ready for the expectation that comes with joining a club such as United, although both have displayed the necessary raw talent. Cabaye has shown that he is capable of performing well against teams of the calibre of the Red Devils and is more of a refined talent, but in joining them at this point he risks being branded a "panic buy" all the same.
Following his move this summer, Fellaini is no longer a guaranteed starter for the Belgian national team ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. The same fate could await Cabaye with France if he chooses to make a rash move in January.
In the short-term, it may appear that there is a place for Cabaye in this Manchester United side, given the current hysteria surrounding the club’s mid-table predicament. However, there is no guarantee that there would be next season after a probable summer overhaul.
The United hierarchy are no doubt being urged to remain patient with Moyes, but if results continue to undermine him, then there is a chance that he won’t even last the season, despite being Ferguson’s elected heir.
PSG offer a better immediate option to Cabaye, given that Blanc is a big fan of the midfielder from their time together with the French national team. But there is no guarantee that he will play every match for a team already making excellent progress in Ligue 1 and the Champions League with a midfield that largely picks itself.
The overriding motivation behind a potential move for the Frenchman by the capital club is that he would also be another domestic player to add to PSG’s dwindling home contingent.
A move for Cabaye would also compromise the future of young midfield sensation Adrien Rabiot, a member of that small group. It would have a knock-on effect as the club then would have to find more rare home-grown talents capable of playing a part in the first team.
For Cabaye, there is obviously plenty to gain personally and professionally by moving clubs in January, but he also stands to lose a considerable amount.
He may be better off remaining patient throughout the rest of the campaign, concentrating on maintaining his good form and seeing where Newcastle finish in the table before making a decision on his future.
The Geordies could yet secure an improbable Champions League berth for next season. But if they don’t, then Cabaye will have no shortage of suitors, many no doubt offering top-level European football, to choose from.