NEWCASTLE United have finally landed a replacement for Andy Carroll – by clinching a January deal for Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse.
United made their first transfer breakthrough of the January window by signing the Freiburg forward, who has penned a five-and-a-half year deal with the Magpies.
He will wear the number nine shirt – the first player to don it since Carroll swapped Tyneside for Merseyside in a £35m move to Liverpool.
United have pulled off a significant coup in clinching a deal for prolific Freiburg striker Cisse, with his signing also ending their nearly year-long search for a replacement for Carroll.
The fee was reported to be around £7.5million – potentially rising towards the £9million mark.
He passed a medical and penned a long-term deal after jetting into Newcastle – before heading off for African Cup of Nations duty with Senegal the same day.
He will not be available until the end of the month, having been selected in the same squad as new Newcastle team-mate Demba Ba for the team’s assault on the tournament, held in Equitorial Guinea and Gabon.
The club are at pains to insist it does not mean Ba is available for transfer – with Newcastle looking to build on their brilliant start to the season.
A delighted Cisse said last night: “I am very happy here. When I heard about the deal I was delighted. It is a great opportunity for me, I was very happy to accept it. Newcastle United is a great club and I can’t wait to play in front of these great supporters.
“I am aware of the huge importance of the number nine shirt, and when I spoke with the manager he made it very clear how important this shirt is. I will treat it with the respect and I hope to do my very best in this shirt.”
Managing director Derek Llambias added: “We are very pleased to bring Papiss to the club. It is a signing which perfectly complements the type of side Alan is building, and we are sure he will prove to be an excellent acquisition.
“He has travelled a long way to come and sign with us today, and we thank the Senegalese Football Federation for their assistance in helping us secure the player.”
The 26-year-old is a wiry, 6ft forward who is good in the air and possesses lightening pace. He boasts a terrific goalscoring record, having notched 37 goals in 65 games for the Bundesliga side.
Cisse has seven in 12 for his country and will be tasked with leading the line alongside Ba in Equitorial Guinea and Gabon this month.
He has nine in 15 this season and will join Newcastle’s tilt for Europe when Senegal are knocked out of the African Nations Cup.
Black Cats sources last night claimed they had not identified Cisse as a target in this window, although former boss Steve Bruce had considered him over the summer and he had been linked with a move to the Premier League.
It brings a long wait for United to sign a striker to an end, although it does not necessarily spell an end to their interest in Manchester United wonder kid Ravel Morrison – and the club will still target a defender by the end of the season.
However, The Journal understands United have told Aly Cissokho they do not intend to bid for him in the January transfer window.
Sources close to Cissokho remain convinced Newcastle retain a major interest in the defender – hence the increased intensity of reports about the Lyon man’s future over in France.
However, the full-back, rated at around £8million, does not appear to be a priority target for Newcastle.
They are now seeking a central defender, with Cesena’s 24-year-old Yohan Benalouane the latest name in the frame.
Reports a deal had been agreed for him are wide of the mark, but he does figure prominently on United’s list of targets.
A player who does not is Swansea goalkeeper Michael Vorm, despite claims to the contrary.
Newcastle had enquired about Vorm according to Swans club director John van Zweden – claims later refuted by the Welsh club.
A Swans spokesman said: “We have not received any enquiries about Michel Vorm.”