Veteran midfielder says French players could stick together at St James’.
A large colony of French player at Newcastle could prove problematic, according to former Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque.
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The veteran midfielder, who spent a decade in England with Fulham, Tottenham and the Black Cats, is now with Ligue 1 outfit Lyon and has witness no less than four of his compatriots move to St James’ Park this month.
“It will be a problem, I think, because without meaning to, at the beginning, the French players will stick with each other,” said Malbranque.
“If some of them don’t speak any English then they will only talk to the other Frenchmen.
“That could lead to the creation of cliques and could create problems in the squad. I hope not for them but there is a risk.”
Newcastle, who are currently struggling in 16th place in the Premier League table, completed the signing of France centre-back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa from Montpellier on Tuesday, and also closed in on a deal for Nancy full-back Massadio Haidara.
In addition, Bordeaux striker Yoan Gouffran announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he was set to move to Tyneside, while right-back Mathieu Debuchy arrived earlier this month.
The new arrivals will take the number of French players in Alan Pardew’s squad to eleven, while Cheick Tiote, Gael Bigirimana and Papiss Cisse are also French speakers.
Malbranque, who turned 33 earlier this month, formed part of a large colony of French players at Fulham under French coach Jean Tigana and said the onus is on Pardew to bring the squad together.
“At Fulham, we didn’t have any major problems, but it is true that we French often kept to ourselves,” he said.
“There was a little bit of tension, but once the French coach left things were different.
“The coach must fix the rules. Tigana made us speak English to the other French players to show the English guys that we were making the effort.
“There were little things like that. I don’t know Alan Pardew, but if there are no rules then there will be problems.”
Malbranque knows the north-east of England well after his spell with Newcastle’s local rivals Sunderland, and he joked that the new recruits will need time to adjust to the climate.
“They are going to be cold! It will be tough! The atmosphere in Newcastle is good but they will still feel the cold.”
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