Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle line up captain Fabricio Coloccini as new player-boss

By Martin Hardy

Fabricio Coloccini is in line to be the next manager of Newcastle United after Alan Pardew's move to Crystal Palace neared completion last night.

Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner who is currently on holiday in Barbados, is ready to turn to the long-serving Argentinian club captain and central defender to take over as his seventh manager in the seven and a half years he has been in control at St James' Park.

Pardew was last night on the brink of succeeding Neil Warnock at Selhurst Park, with a compensation figure in the region of £2m having been agreed between Ashley and Steve Parish, the Crystal Palace chairman.

Coloccini joined the club for £10.53m from Deportivo La Coruña back in 2008 when Kevin Keegan was the manager. He has been captain since Kevin Nolan was sold in 2011 and has been a key figure at the club since.

The defender, 33 next month, has become a demonstrative leader in recent months and enjoys a close relationship with Ashley. Despite a desire to leave and return to his native Argentina in 2013 because of personal problems after his wife moved back to Argentina, he stayed and helped play a major role in keeping Newcastle in the Premier League.

He was persuaded to return to England by Ashley and the then Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias and it is believed that the possibility of succeeding Pardew was mooted during the lengthy negotiations to bring about his return.

Since then his influence has grown and he played a major role in the decision to ostracise Hatem Ben Arfa at the start of pre-season when the mercurial French forward was not allowed to train with the first team squad after two dressing-room clashes with Pardew.

Coloccini signed a new contract in 2012 that keeps him at Newcastle until 2016, but a new deal will be negotiated if he succeeds Pardew and becomes player-manager of the club.

It is unclear whether he has the required coaching badges but Newcastle could look to hand him a lesser title if there is a problem. He could be handed the job on an interim basis to begin with.

Ashley had stood by Pardew earlier in the season when his team were on a dire run, having picked up just one win in 15 Premier League games.

Pardew had a £5m cause inserted into the eight-year deal he signed in 2012 which meant it would cost any potential new employers that figure to end his controversial reign in the North east. That was also the fee it would have cost Newcastle had they sacked Pardew, as they came close to doing during that awful run.

Pardew was told earlier this month that there would not be significant funds to strengthen the Newcastle side when the transfer window opens on Thursday. That was a further blow after failing in his request to bring in a recognised central defender and a renowned centre forward, despite signing nine players in the summer.

His lack of say in the transfer market - only Davide Santon, Gabriel Obertan and Rob Elliot were bought on his say so - has been a continued issue. Ashley has relied on the chief scout Graham Carr, who, significantly, was given an eight-year deal before Pardew and his back room staff.

Pardew is expected to take coach Andy Woodman with him to Palace but the futures of John Carver and Steve Stone remain unclear. Pardew missed training yesterday after returning to London on Sunday night after the 3-2 win over Everton, Newcastle's first victory in five games.

A poll in the Tyneside newspaper The Evening Chronicle yesterday showed that 71 per cent of fans would be happy if he took the post at Palace.

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