NEW signing Vurnon Anita left Champions League football behind at Ajax – but he’s confident he’ll return to the competition with Newcastle, writes Miles Starforth.
Anita yesterday signed a five-year deal at the Sports Direct Arena after the two clubs agreed a £6.6million fee.
The 23-year-old, who who can play in central midfield and at left-back, could make his debut at home to Tottenham tomorrow (5.30pm).
Anita is relishing his new start and hopes the Magpies – fifth last term – can again challenge for a top-four Premier League place.
“I think our main goal is to be in the top four and play in the Champions League, of course, and win some cups,” Anita said.
“Last season was great. They did very well, so this year we must improve.
“The philosophy from the club – everything – is great. They want to play really good football, so I’m happy to be here.”
Anita already has one competitive game under his belt this season – he played 90 minutes for Ajax against AZ Alkmaar last weekend – and is ready and willing to be pitched straight in by boss Alan Pardew, who has a number of injury concerns.
“I can now focus on football, and that’s important,” said Anita. “I’m fit. I played Sunday for Ajax – 90 minutes – so I’m totally fit.
“It’s important for a player that the supporters are behind him. I’m going to do my best to let them enjoy.”
Versatile Anita’s preference is for a central midfield berth, though he knows he faces tough competition, with Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye having forged a formidable partnership last season.
“My favourite is in the midfield, but I can play left-back or right-back,” he said.
“They are great players. I can learn from them, and they can learn from me. It’s only good for the team.”
H Danny Simpson is set to start the season in the Newcastle team, despite uncertainty over his future.
The defender is in the last year of his deal, with no new discussions on the horizon after talks broke down.
However, Pardew has confidence in the right-back, who featured heavily in pre-season, saying: “His attitude has been first class.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle, up to now, have been frustrated in their attempts to sign a right-back.
The club has had a bid turned down for Lille’s Mathieu Debuchy, and it remains to be seen whether it will return with an improved offer.