Moussa Sissoko looked to be a man on a mission.
He was on a mission to win Euro 2016 for France.
Newcastle would ask for £35 million? It could be £20million – for me, it changes nothing. The interested clubs will know how to find common ground. I hope that it will be as early as possible.Moussa Sissoko
And, as one tweet from a journalist put it, the midfielder looked a man who had just remembered this was his “last chance to make sure his first home fixture of next season is not Huddersfield Town”.
Sissoko, it seems, really doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Championship, despite having had everything to do with Newcastle United’s relegation.
The club is asking for £35million for Sissoko, a player who went missing all too often as the club fought to stay in the Premier League.
It’s an extraordinary sum for a player who was extraordinarily bad for much of last season.
The Sissoko camp have already called on the club to be “reasonable”.
But is owner Mike Ashley a reasonable man?
Given the Premier League’s increasing riches, it’s not inconceivable that a club will bid upwards of £20million for the 26-year-old, though United fans would put an even lower value on him given his fitful contribution to the cause last season.
Certainly, Ashley is not desperate to cash in on Sissoko. The whispers in the wake of relegation were that Ashley wanted the likes of Sissoko to right the wrongs of last season.
Is he willing to be unreasonable and keep him on Tyneside?
But the final decision will be left to United manager Rafa Benitez, who wants Sissoko to stay and has talked about the importance of him and others “taking responsibility” for the club’s relegation.
While Ashley and Benitez may be minded to keep Sissoko at Newcastle, many fans take a different view.
They want him out. Now.
For his part, Sissoko wants an “early” resolution.
Speaking to L’Equipe, he said: “Newcastle would ask for £35 million?
“It could be £20million – for me, it changes nothing.
“The interested clubs will know how to find common ground. I hope that it will be as early as possible.”
The new Championship season kick off on August 5, and the Huddersfield game is a week today.
We could still be talking about Sissoko’s future in a month’s time, though Benitez will, presumably, want some kind of resolution himself by then.
A “representative” of Sissoko told Foot Mercato about his camp’s unhappiness at the fee being demanded by United.
“We do not understand,” he said. “It was agreed that Moussa stayed one more season at Newcastle to help the team. He did the best he could.
“We hope that Rafael Benitez and the president will be more reasonable about Moussa’s future.
“He has always been loyal, he has always respected the club, the fans.”
Supporters, however, may feel that he could have shown the club a bit more respect over the past two or three years.
Sissoko has talked of his admiration for Arsenal and keenness to play for a “big club”. And if that was his best, it wasn’t good enough.
Certainly, he didn’t back up his words with performances until Euro 2016.
A number of clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, have been linked with moves for Sissoko this summer.
One thing is clear. Somehow will have to pay, whatever the outcome.
It’ll take a huge fee to sign him. If there are no suitable bids, Sissoko will pay a price of his own.