‘I wanted Declan Rice to join Newcastle – but London boys don’t like north-east’

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    London footballers are snubbing Newcastle because they don’t like the north-east, according to a Magpies legend.

    With their Saudi-backed wealth, Newcastle are expected to challenge the so-called ‘big six’ over the next few years, both on and off the pitch. However, according to Nolberto Solano – a fans’ favourite at St James’ Park between 1998 and 2004 – many players turn their noses up at the prospect of playing for the Magpies due to the club's location.

    Solano was hoping Newcastle, on the back of securing Champions League qualification, would swoop for Declan Rice last summer. However, the Peruvian, who remains fond of the north-east, wasn’t surprised to see the Londoner stay in the capital by joining Arsenal in a £100million-plus deal.

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    “I was really hopeful that Newcastle could get Declan Rice, but he’s a London boy and he wanted to stay there,” Solano told Betway. “I don’t know what the problem is with the north-east, many London players don’t seem to like it up there.

    “Newcastle is a pretty city to be in and a pretty city to live in, but everyone makes their own decisions. I would have really liked to have seen Rice at Newcastle, but the club obviously have to be careful with Financial Fair Play, so it’s understandable.”

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    One high-profile player who did make the switch to Newcastle this summer was Sandro Tonali, who arrived from AC Milan. After a bright start to his Magpies career, the Italian has struggled in recent weeks, but Solano is sure Eddie Howe has a fine player on his hands.

    “Tonali was one of many players who did well in the 5-1 victory over Aston Villa in the season opener, but after coming through a difficult period of form people have started to get a bit worried,” said the former Villa and Boca Juniors winger.

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    “Any player who arrives from abroad to the Premier League takes time to adapt. I hope their form picks up now because it’s easier to do when your team is winning games. When form is going badly, there’s a lot more criticism, which can affect people.

    “But you can see he’s a good player. I really like him with Bruno Guimaraes. For me, they aren’t really pace players but they’re intelligent and are great with the ball at their feet. Like I said, I think it’s going to be a tough season for everyone, but if Newcastle do well then players can be a bit more relaxed in the way they play, which in turn takes the pressure off a little.”

    • Newcastle United FC
    • Premier League
    • Arsenal FC
    • Declan Rice

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