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It's no go for Hugo

Scottish Mag

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Hugo Viana is facing up to the prospect of four months in the first-team wilderness after failing to secure a move away from Newcastle this summer.


The Portuguese international, on national team duty against Egypt in the Azores last night, has spent the summer touting his talents to clubs across the continent.


But Viana, who extended his contract with United 12 months ago, has been left in no doubt that his lucrative deal with the Magpies has become increasingly detrimental to a faltering career.


And the midfielder must accept that a substantial pay cut is the only way out of a situation which is threatening his involvement in next summer's World Cup.


Viana already faces an uncomfortable return to Tyneside tomorrow after Newcastle chairman Freddie Shepherd issued his latest order for the 22-year-old to report back to St James's Park.


But the former European Young Player of the Year knows all that awaits him when he walks through the club's Benton training ground doors is a programme of reserve team football and the hope that January's transfer window offers opportunities anew. Graeme Souness has shown no signs of embracing the potential of one of Sir Bobby Robson's most significant signings - the Scot proved on Sunday that he has forged an effective midfield unit even if his team lacks strength elsewhere.


And it would hardly send out the right message to those players charged with improving United's Premiership position if a player absent for the majority of the summer was handed a key role.


Shepherd, taking valuable time out from round-the-clock talks to sign new players, has done all he can to negotiate a suitable deal on Viana's behalf but even Newcastle's chairman has all but given up hope of a successful outcome before August 31.


The Magpies have paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds in wages to the former Sporting Lisbon playmaker this summer - following his return from a successful loan spell in the Portuguese capital. And that drain on resources is a source of some irritation within the corridors of St James's Park.


Viana, for his part, does not want to be perceived as a player happy to take his money and contribute nothing in return. He would love to ease United's financial burden but both he and Shepherd are suffering from a generous deal which no longer reflects Viana's true value in an increasingly competitive European transfer market.


Newcastle are already resigned to taking a substantial financial hit on the £8.5m fee paid out to Sporting in 2002. Now United face the uncomfortable prospect of continuing to honour the contract of a player deemed surplus to requirements on Tyneside and elsewhere.


On a brighter note the decision to replace controversial referee Barry Knight with Dermot Gallagher ahead of Saturday's fixture at St James's Park must be welcomed.

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Shame really. It would be best for both him and us if a deal could be struck elsewhere. Can't help wondering how he would perform on the left side of a midfield three though, now Emres injured.

Half of me thinks that could be a role he was suited to, the other half says he would be a slow, lightweight pussy.

Edited by Dr Kenneth Noisewater
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