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Henri Saivet: “An exceptional challenge for me.”

Speaking in exclusive interview with L’Équipe, Newcastle’s brand new signing from Bordeaux Henri Saivet commented on his move to the Premier League. In full.

You were starting with Bordeaux, on Saturday, and already in Newcastle, yesterday, to sign a contract for five years. What happened for you transfer to have accelerated in such a fashion?

It was already advanced, but we did not force things either. I knew that it would be without a doubt my final match for Bordeaux. But the transfer window is always very uncertain, it can be done in 24 hours like it can go on forever. At the end of the game, I still informed my teammates by telling them that there was a big chance that I would be going.

Were you determined to leave Bordeaux?

Very sincerely, no. I did not think that it would go this quickly. When I left for the holidays, I did not imagine that I would find myself this quickly here.

Outside of Newcastle, you were followed by Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich. Why did you choose the Magpies?

I knew that contact had been established with certain club but I wanted to solely concentrate on the pitch. But Newcastle, it is an exceptional challenge for me. To arrive at this moment in the season to help them climb the table, it is something very exciting. I am a guy who needs a challenge. I am someone who needs to measure myself up, to see what I can do.

Did you hesitate about leaving in the middle of the season?

I know that it is always delicate to leave during a season. At the same time, I have never left Bordeaux, apart from a loan to Angers. Besides, that was in the same period (January 2011) and it went very well.

At Newcastle, you are joining a large French colony (Sissoko, Thauvin etc.) and some former Ligue 1 players (Cissé). Is that reassuring?

As a matter of fact, I asked myself the question which club I would be able to adapt myself to the most quickly. Newcastle is in a state of emergency, I know that. But I say the squad and the number of former Ligue 1 players there. The answer jumped in front of my eyes.

Newcastle are currently in the relegation zone. Does that not put you off?

I have seen a fair amount of matches from Newcastle when the initial contacts were established, and I had time with Boxing Day! For a little while now, they are losing on the small details, often by one goal, it is a cycle of bad luck. I am convinced that it will turn around.

Do you know in which position Steve McClaren plans to use you?

In the central midfield position. I spoke with him, and he even surprised me. I did not think that he would know me so well, that he would be able to speak about my game with such detail. He has already shown me certain sequences of mine on video that he appreciated and that are important for the Premier League, according to him.

England, has become the promised land for Ligue 1 players…

For me, it is quite simply the most attractive league. Every footballer says it, I have friends who play in Spain who want to come here. The stadiums, the fans, everything is different. It is everyone’s dream, and in any case it is mine.

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