FABRICIO Coloccini was set to lead Newcastle United against Norwich City today – despite asking to leave St James’s Park.
Coloccini has rocked the club by asking to quit in this month’s transfer window.
But the influential captain – who signed a new four-year deal last year – has stopped short of formally handing in a transfer request.
And he travelled with his team-mates to Norfolk yesterday ahead of this afternoon’s game at Carrow Road.
Coloccini’s future now rests on talks between the defender, manager Alan Pardew and the United hierarchy over the coming days.
The 30-year-old’s father, Osvaldo, has openly talked of him returning to his first club San Lorenzo, and the Argentinian club’s president, Matias Lammens, said: “Coloccini to San Lorenzo represents plan A, B and C.
“He represents much more than football. The deadline is next week, but we cannot do anything crazy with the budget.”
Coloccini’s form has dipped alarmingly this season, with Newcastle’s defensive frailties in stark contrast to their form last term on the way to a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League.
Unusually, he has refused to speak to the media in recent months, with the club’s skipper normally the player that speaks most to the press.
Pardew is already looking to sign one defender this month, and losing Coloccini – when his defensive resources are already stretched – would be a huge blow for the relegation-threatened club.
Newcastle could be more willing to accede to Coloccini’s request in the summer’s transfer window.
Another option would be a loan to San Lorenzo, though the club would be unable to pay all of Coloccini’s wages given he is the highest-paid player at St James’s Park.
Pardew declined to discuss speculation over Coloccini’s future at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.