Sunderland player Jack Colback has crossed the North East divide and signed for bitter rivals Newcastle.
The move was confirmed on Newcastle's club website:
"To come to the team I supported as a boy, my hometown team, will be really special for me.
"It was an opportunity I couldn't let slip. If you asked fans around the world the one thing they'd like to do before they die, it would be to play for the team they support and I've got the chance to do that.
"I've only got good things to say about Sunderland. They gave me my chance and I want to thank the fans and the club for all their support.
"I hope they can understand the chance I've had here to move to my boyhood club. Now I can't wait to pull on the black and white shirt at St. James' Park for the first time."
Sunderland also released a statement on Colback's move:
“Jack is a player we have nurtured and developed through our academy system since he was eight years old. We gave him the opportunity to become a professional footballer and are therefore extremely disappointed in the events that have led to his departure from the club.
“This wasn’t about money - the club agreed to all of the terms demanded of us during discussions and we were always led to believe that Jack wanted to stay with us. At his and his representatives’ request, final talks were put on hold until the club secured its top flight status. To our dismay however, we were subsequently never given the chance to negotiate with him to stay.
“For him to then leave the club that has supported him throughout his formative years in such a manner, with no chance for Sunderland to recover any of the significant investment that it has made in him as a player, has left a bitter taste."
Colback arrives at St James' Park on a free transfer with the move originally reported by Sky Sports:
Sky Sources: Newcastle sign midfielder Jack Colback from Sunderland #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 9, 2014
Louise Taylor of The Guardian recently wrote that the 24-year-old player from Killingworth, North Tyneside, had turned down a £50,000-per-week deal to join West Ham so he could play for the Magpies—the team he supported as a boy.
Taylor explains that Colback decided to let his deal with the Black Cats run down last summer after receiving a "somewhat modest offer" from then director of football Roberto De Fanti.
This made Colback decide that his future laid elsewhere.
Colback had previously been used in a variety of positions by Sunderland but found his best form under Gus Poyet when the Uruguayan took control of the club.
The player ended up playing 33 Premier League matches for Sunderland in 2013-14, per Squawka, contributing three goals.
Colback, along with Ayoze Perez, marks Newcastle's first permanent squad additions for 18 months, per Taylor.
Pete Graves from Sky Sports also confirmed the Colback transfer via his Twitter account and commented on the expected arrival of striker Bafetimbi Gomis:
#NUFC finalise deals for Perez and Colback. Gomis keen to sign, but as in January, the finances have been a sticking point thus far...— Pete Graves (@PeteGravesSky) June 9, 2014
The Chronicle's chief sports writer Lee Ryder gave his approval to the Colback and Perez deals:
So two signings in the door for #nufc . Perez and Colback. Decent start to the summer.— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) June 9, 2014
Colback is a progressive signing for the Magpies and will aid them in rebuilding their squad after the January exit of Yohan Cabaye. It is arguable that Colback is not in the same class as the Frenchman, who joined Paris Saint-Germain, but as a free transfer he is a useful addition.
Colback showed last year he has good potential as an attacking midfielder, but his diversity and ability to play full-back makes his arrival a shrewd capture for Alan Pardew. However, Newcastle will have to further cast their net wide for top-quality players to help them compete for the Europa League spots in the Premier League once again.
Much work is still needed to be done.