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South Africa
By ESPN Staff

Newcastle linked with move for Toulouse's Emana

Newcastle are trailing Cameroon international midfielder Achille Emana as manager Kevin Keegan prepares to start his summer recruitment drive.

The 25-year-old is contracted to French club Toulouse until 2011, but is said to be looking for a new challenge after a disappointing league campaign which saw his side finish 17th a year after qualifying for the Champions League.

It is understood the Magpies have opened initial talks with the player as they consider a possible move and his advisor, Sebastien Thiery, has indicated that St James' Park is a destination he would seriously consider.

Thiery said: 'Achille is ready to play in the Premier League and Newcastle is a team he would relish playing for. He is strong and is a box-to-box midfielder who also possesses a lot of pace.

'He has the right number of caps and the right amount of experience at 25 not to be overawed by the Premier League, which would be an exciting challenge.'

Emana, a product of the Valencia youth system, is looking to either England or Spain for the next step in his career, and Seville, Real Betis and West Ham are understood to be potential competitors for his signature.

FA Cup winners Portsmouth have also been alerted to his possible availability.

He went to the 2006 and 2008 African Nations Cup tournaments with Cameroon, and played alongside Magpies man Geremi in this year's final as their country went down 1-0 to Egypt in Ghana.

Newcastle are still to take a decision on Joey Barton's future, while Emre has been the subject of repeated speculation that he could head back to Turkey this summer.

Keegan has been linked with a move for Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, and there is little doubt he will try to add creativity to a squad which certainly lacked it in the midfield area for much of last season.

However, his transfer dealings could be complicated by chairman Chris Mort's impending departure and the installation of his successor, with newly-appointed deputy Derek Llambias the hot favourite to take over.

That said, the two men are currently working in tandem under the watchful eye of owner Mike Ashley and it would be no surprise if the groundwork for what the club hopes to do during the close-season is already under way.

Meanwhile, Geremi's season is yet to draw to a close as he and his international colleagues prepare for four vital World Cup qualifiers.

However, the 29-year-old admits he is already looking forward to his return to St James' and much bigger things next season.

He said: 'Everything is set up to succeed, without a doubt. We have everything to do it with the facilities, not to mention the fans. Every week St James' Park is full. That's a big thing - it's exciting. When you play you, want to fight for those people and try to win something.

'When you win matches, they are happy, so it inspires you to do well.'

Geremi, who was signed last summer by Sam Allardyce, found himself on the sidelines as the Magpies slipped to the brink of the relegation fight.

He returned during the closing weeks of the season to play a key role in Keegan's revival, and was hugely impressed by the new manager.

He said: 'Kevin will try to do it his own way and the way he knows. He doesn't do things like anybody else. If you remember when we were struggling, he was telling us that the training is good.

'He said: 'Don't worry about the results, they will come', and he was right.'


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