Big surprise everyone -- Yohan Cabaye is really good! Oh, everyone knew already? If that's the case, then why bother doing a shortlist piece on him now? Well, with Cabaye himself dropping a couple of broad hints that he doesn't really see himself saying 'whey-aye' to another year with the Toon, it seems the time has never been riper to explore whether one of the breakout stars of 2011-12 might actually be a realistic and desirable target for Tottenham. So let's dive in, shall we?
Name: Yohan Cabaye
League: English Premier League
Position: Centre midfield
Can Also Play: Defensive midfield, attacking midfield
Yohan Cabaye landed at Newcastle United just under a year ago off the back of a fantastic season for his first club Lille, whom he had just helped to League and cup double. His signing could reasonably be described to have been somewhat under-the-radar at the time, and Mike Ashley shelled out a mere £4.3m for his services. Within months, he had evolved into one of the hottest properties in the League, helping to propel his club into the contention for the Champions League just two years after they had been promoted from the second tier of English football and eventually steering them to a still-impressive fifth place finish.
Things went a little off the rail for Cabaye in his sophomore term for Newcastle; a long injury layoff at the start of the season left him watching from the sidelines as his side plunged down towards the relegation zone bereft of his orchestration efforts. When he returned, he looked somewhat off his game, ultimately notching only two assists for the whole season; though he remained an influential player for the Toon in the final months of their campaign it was difficult to shake off the impression that he was growing disinterested with life in the North East.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what kind of player Cabaye is- though he's often referred to as Newcastle's playmaker, he never confines his orchestration efforts to one area of the pitch. Roaming back and forth looking to keep the side ticking over, he excels at making himself available for a pass, and he is just as competent recycling the ball as he is at playing more long-range, defence-splitting passes. He's an intelligent box-to-box player who can hold his own in the tackle and spring counters and through balls to strikers over and over in a single game.
Likely Price: ~£15m.
Probability That Valuation is Wrong: 75%. It's tough to say decisively because Cabaye was certainly worth at least that much money at the end of the season before and more, but a season of comparatively poor form and injury woes may have dented his value. The club will almost certainly try and pressure for a vastly inflated price from any bidders, yet if he agitates hard to leave as the summer drags on the club might be forced to settle for less.
Teams Willingness to Sell: Low. Cabaye is still pretty much the jewel of this current Newcastle side and representative of (what had appeared to be) the side's resurgence towards the upper echelons of the League- losing him would be seen as symbolic of a backslide towards more sustained mediocrity and could prompt further departures.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Would slot wonderfully into any formation Andre Villas-Boas might decide to play next season. Comfortable launching attacks from the back or marauding forwards, Cabaye is about as solid as any pivot player you'll find out there. He could also serve as any of the allocated roles in your typical 4-3-3, as a passer, runner or deeper-lying lynchpin.
Possibility He Ends Up At Spurs: Low. Cabaye clearly has his sights dead set on testing himself at the very highest level and there's every chance a Champions League club (or Monaco) will swoop in to prise him away before September 1st.
Grade If This Transfer Goes Through: B+. His dropoff in form was worrying at the end of last season and he'll need to work hard to prove that his early providence at Newcastle won't be his peak. There's also many other affordable options out there who can play his positions competently. But he's a player of obvious quality and he sweeps almost every other option we have at the club for his spot in the side off the table.