Romain Amalfitano came to Tyneside recently to sign his new contract linking him to the Magpies, and he could have been greeted with a 'Welcome home!' by Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye, Mehdi Abeid, Gabriel Obertan or Hatem Ben Arfa. And home here means the Newcastle midfield area as from July the 1st, he will be the 6th player with a French passport to fight for a chance to run box to box on Saint James Park’s pitch.
One question must be on every fan’s lips though: who is Romain Amalfitano?
Born in 1989 in Nice, Romain was recruited aged 16 by the lower tier youth system of Chateauroux but signed his first professional contract with newly formed and rising club Evian-Thonon-Gaillard. In the Alps he played an important part in the clubs promotion to Ligue 2. Unsure about his potential playing time here, he decided to move on to another promoted side (and miss on the club’ second promotion in a row), namely the Stade de Reims.
His ball skills pace and vision played a major role in Reims' promotion to the top tier 33 years after they left it
The Champagne club, famous for being the only rival to Real Madrid reign in the early 50s, has unfortunately retreated to relative anonymity . During his first season there, he took part in 40 games for 7 goals scored and a 10th place finish. This year, thanks to injury he only played 28 games, scoring 3 goals and providing 5. But he made a big impression on the observers.
His ball skills pace and vision played a major role in Reims' promotion to the top tier 33 years after they left it. Nonetheless the gap between Ligue 2 promotion level and Champions’ league contender in the Premier League is a huge one.
The youngster is indeed very happy of his destiny; as many Ligue 1 clubs were lining up to sign him but he couldn’t resist the Newcastle temptation. He claimed (in French): “I’m very happy to join Newcastle. When a club like this wants you, it’s a good sign. I thus took the opportunity and can’t wait to discover the Premier League.”
The right midfielder will be in direct competition with fellow Ben Arfa or Cabaye for a spot, but doesn’t seem to be worried by the challenge laid ahead of him.
Romain won’t be an immediate starter in the squad but he is still quite young and his recent progression has been swift. The bet sounds like a fair one for the club knowing that he is coming here on a free transfer fee (end of contract) and will have one of the smallest paycheck of the squad. Wait (probably for a league cup game) and see then!
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