Arsenal wanted to sign me, claims Newcastle star

Toon defender could have ended up at the Emirates Stadium. Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa says Arsenal were interested in signing...

Toon defender could have ended up at the Emirates Stadium.

Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa says Arsenal were interested in signing him before he moved to St James’ Park.

The Frenchman joined the Toon from Montpellier in January and has since made 19 appearances for Alan Pardew’s side.

The versatile defender was linked with a host of Premier League and European clubs before joining Newcastle’s burgeoning French contingent, and the 24-year-old says he was close to moving to the Emirates Stadium.

“Yes, Arsenal were interested in me. But I think I made the right decision to come here,” the France international told the Newcastle Chronicle.

“All I want to do is to play well so to honour the Newcastle shirt.

“I have to thank all of the players and backroom staff for welcoming me; all of the Magpies, it has been a pleasure.”

Newcastle face Arsenal in their final Premier League match of the season at St James’ Park on Sunday, having secured their top flight status with a win at QPR last weekend.

Yanga-Mbiwa stressed that it was unacceptable for the Magpies to have been so close to the drop.

“First of all, a team like Newcastle should not be in a situation where we need to worry about relegation.

“It’s good that we have made sure a great club such as this remains in the Premier League.

“It would obviously have been nice to succeed a little bit earlier, but it’s better later than ever.

“It’s nice to be sure of safety and despite this being the last match of the season, we want to use it as preparation for next season. We want to make sure we play next time.

“It is natural for me to look forward. That is normal. You have to prepare for the months and years in front of us. We must make sure we play better.”

The Toon have been criticised for the number of French players in their squad but Yanga-Mbiwa says the club’s large Gallic continent knows they must hit top form next term.

“All us French players now know what to expect. We will have played a lot of matches by the time next season begins.

“We know we can play better next season. I am definitely hoping to get into the top 10, climb up that league.

“I think we can go for between eighth and sixth. I don’t think that’s over-estimating us. We should be able to go into the top positions and compete with the best.”

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