NEWCASTLE United may turn to England international Micah Richards if they lose Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal.
Debuchy has been strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium as Arsene Wenger looks for a new right-back. Newcastle are keen to hold on to the France international, who helped his country to the quarter-final of the World Cup last night with a 2-0 win againt Nigeria.
But they know Debuchy is keen to play Champions League football – like his close friend Yohan Cabaye, who United sold to Paris St Germain in January for £20m.
Arsenal desperately need a right-back after seeing Bacary Sagna – who Debuchy has been keeping out of the France starting line-up – join Manchester City on a free transfer.
Sagna’s move effectively spells the end of Richards’ time at City, with the Frenchman and first-choice Pablo Zabaleta ahead of him in the pecking order.
Richards, capped 13 times by England, had already decided he wanted a move to kick-start his career, and Newcastle are understood to retain a long-standing interest in the powerful defender.
Richards has been hampered by a series of injuries over the last couple of years, and has only made nine Premier League appearances for Man City in two seasons.
The 26-year-old is available for £5m, but any move will depend on Debuchy’s future. Newcastle still hope to keep the Frenchman at St James’s Park after seeing him turn in a series of outstanding performances last season, but will cash in on the 28-year-old if an offer from Arsenal is good enough.
Reports in France yesterday claimed that the two clubs have already opened negotiations, but Newcastle are believed to want double the £5.5m they paid Lille for the full-back 18 months ago.
Arsenal are still weighing up whether to go for Debuchy, who has Premier League experience, or the potential of 21-year-old Toulouse ace Serge Aurier.
Newcastle are also understood to be keeping tabs on Aurier, who impressed for the Ivory Coast before their World Cup exit.
Meanwhile, another right-back, James Tavernier, has spoken of his aim to get back into the top flight after leaving Newcastle to sign for Wigan.
Tavernier, who spent last season on loan at Rotherham, joined Championship side Wigan at the weekend for a nominal fee.
The 22-year-old struggled to make an impact on the Newcastle first team after joining as a schoolboy from Leeds.
He said: “Wigan Athletic are a Premier League club and I’ve always known them to be a Premier League club, and hopefully I can help to help get us back where we belong.
“Leeds and Newcastle are obviously big clubs and going into another big team like Wigan is great for me.
“The club have the same mentality and desire for success. I’m very happy.
“It’s a new chapter in my career now and I can’t wait to put on the Wigan shirt and show the fans and the manager what I can do.”