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Feb 10, 2011

Newcastle pull off Kuqi "coup"

Newcastle United have completed the surprise signing of free agent Shefki Kuqi until the end of the season.

Manager Alan Pardew has been looking for a new striker since Andrew Carroll became the most expensive English player ever by joining Liverpool for £35 million. Shola Ameobi is currently out injured with a fractured cheekbone, leaving Pardew short on numbers.

Manager Alan Pardew said: "We needed another option up front because we are a little light there due to the temporary loss of Shola, and Shefki will provide us with something different. He's match-fit and knows the English game well having been in the country for the best part of 10 years. He is ready straight away and that's what we wanted.

"Shefki is a good, honest pro who will give us a strong physical presence from the bench.''

Although the transfer window has closed, clubs are able to sign any player who was without a club on February 1. Despite scoring twice for Championship club Swansea City in both his starts in August he was loaned to Derby County, where he scored twice in 12 games. His contract was cancelled by Swansea on his return to the Liberty Stadium last month.

Kuqi, 34, does have experience in the Premier League having made 34 appearances for Blackburrn between 2005 and 2006 and he also joined Fulham on loan for 10 games in February 2008. He boasts eight Premier League goals to his name and caught the eye for his trademark belly flop goal celebration.

Kuqi told Sky Sports News: "I don't really have the words to describe how happy I am. To get this chance is a massive thing for me. I am just happy to be here now and I can't wait to start and hopefully try to do the best I can for Newcastle United.

"For me, it is a great opportunity just to be back in the Premier League again. It is something I have tasted before.

"Everybody knows it is the best league in the world and to be part of it and a club the size of Newcastle United, I am really proud. It's an honour to be here.''

A big, bustling centre-forward, Pardew will hope that Kuqi can replicate the role played by Carroll when he is called upon.

The Finland international has had a nomadic career since beginning his career with Mikkelin Palloilijat, HJK Helsinki and FC Jokerit. He moved to England with Stockport County in 2000 and went on to play for Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Blackburn Rovers, Crystal Palace and Fulham.

Kuqi joined German Bundesliga 2 club TuS Koblenz in the summer of 2009 before joining Swansea a year later.

He could make his debut against former club Blackburn this weekend.

Newcastle were also linked with former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere and Brazilian striker Ewerthon. However, reports on Thursday suggested that Ewerthon had turned down an offer to move to St James' Park.

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