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Don’t leave it Tou-long: Newcastle in tussle for Jeremy Toulalan

Newcastle United, 6/4 with Coral for a top 10 Premier League finish, are supposedly facing a transfer scramble with several top clubs for Monaco midfielder and captain Jeremy Toulalan’s signature.

The experienced France midfield anchor is set to be a free agent this summer, and the Magpies are said to be tracking the former Malaga man.

However, despite the Tyneside team’s supposed long-term interest in Toulalan, it appears Italian giants Inter Milan could be set to jump the queue for his services.

According to Italian press, the Nerazzurri (16/1 to win the Europa League) have swooped in to offer Toulalan a three-year contract to convince the veteran to opt for the San Siro instead.

Newcastle, then, must move quickly if they are to beat the blue and black half of Milan to the highly-rated midfield shield. Serie A side Napoli are also said to be interested in luring Toulalan to Italy, and could also prove a tough transfer competitor for the Magpies.

Newcastle do have an ace up their sleeve, however, with the club’s French connection. Toulalan may be tempted to join compatriots such as Moussa Sissoko, Remy Cabella and Yoan Gouffran, and try his luck in the Premier League.

At age 31, however, the Nantes academy product represents somewhat of a risk. While his lack of transfer fee should off-set any worries, offering a long deal could still prove pricey.

Talented Toulalan has made 34 appearances for Ligue 1 giants Monaco this term, and is still an integral part of the team, despite missing the Champions League last 16 first leg clash with Arsenal due to suspension.

Despite the emergence of compatriot Geoffrey Kondogbia, Toulalan’s leadership and composure will be a huge miss for Monaco, should he depart.

Newcastle could certainly do with a prominent player of Toulalan’s ilk, however. The 37-capped Les Blues star would help knit together an often disorganised and sloppy Magpies’ midfield, and provide cover for a porous rearguard.

His calming presence, technique, well-timed tackling and ability to keep possession is something the North East outfit have sorely lacked since the departure of deep lying playmaker Yohan Cabaye.

Youngster Jack Colback has put in some tenacious performances from deep this term, but could surely learn a thing or two from Toulalan, who won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles with Lyon.

Whether Toulalan would want to take on such responsibility, especially while Newcastle’s long-term managerial plans are still up in the air, is another question entirely.