Mathieu Debuchy says Newcastle United were top of the agenda when the French national team met up this week. Chief sports writer Mark Douglas reports
“I am very happy and proud to be part of Newcastle United and I love it here,” he said.
“When I arrived what I really appreciated and what has been fantastic for me was going to see the stadium for the first time and to then play inside it.
“To finally arrive after such a long time wanting to come, the atmosphere is incredible. I’ve settled in really well to the team, I’ve discovered a fantastic group of talented players. Yohan has taken me for a few walks to look around the city and the area. I’m the sort of person who likes to stay at home a lot to be honest. When I finish training I go home to sleep.
“The hardest thing has been, for a short while, leaving my family behind in France. My wife arrives on Monday, though, and then our English lessons will begin properly.”
At least he is here after what seemed like the summer’s longest transfer saga.
For so long in the summer it seemed as if Debuchy would make the switch from Lille but Newcastle’s negotiations saw the move delayed until January – when he was part of the New Year influx. Having been so desperate to play in England, he admits the delay was tough to take.
“For a long time I’ve wanted to come and play in the Premier League. It has always appealed to me. It really suits me and my style of play. It is made for me,” he said.
“I wanted to be here in the summer, but that didn’t go through. It was difficult at the start of the season to motivate myself at Lille, but fortunately I could make the move in the January window and I’m delighted to be here finally.”
The same is true of Sissoko, who has hit the ground running in black and white. Debuchy is fulsome in his praise of his midfield colleague.
He said: “I was well aware of Moussa in France. In terms of his particular strengths and qualities, you could tell it would suit him here. He will do very well in England. I’ve played against him, he is strong and powerful and he is going to love it in the Premier League.
“I think that is one of the reasons he came. Definitely, it is better for him to play against massive teams and world-class players every weekend.
“If he does well for Newcastle, he will get into the France squad. He is certainly good enough and his reputation is already growing.”
If Debuchy’s January arrival has been partly over-shadowed by the impact of Sissoko and company, it is no bad thing as he gets on with his business quietly and effectively.
Newcastle fans will probably know a bit more about Debuchy and what makes him tick when he masters English and feels a bit more comfortable in a room full of journalists.
For the moment, though, what they have seen they like – and his pay-off line sums up the professionalism of a player desperate to succeed at St James’ Park.
He said: “The atmosphere was already good when I arrived but obviously winning makes things better. The spirit is fantastic. Now we want to climb up the league and do the best we can.”