MEHDI Abeid is playing his way into Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United plans – 1,600 miles away in Athens.
The midfielder is on a season-long loan at Panathinaikos.
It was felt the 21-year-old’s temporary move to the Greek Super League club was a precursor to a permanent switch away from St James’s Park.
But United manager Alan Pardew has been impressed with the reports he has had on Abeid from Greece.
Abeid’s raw talent was evident when he joined the club from French club Lens in the summer of 2011, but he made just five appearances – all in cup competitions – in his first two seasons at the club.
However, Pardew feels he could yet make a success of his Newcastle career when he returns to his parent club next pre-season.
United’s preference was to loan Abeid to a Championship team.
But surprisingly there was no interest in Abeid from English football’s second tier, and he made the long journey to Greece for regular first-team football.
“I sent Mehdi there because he needed to play at a high level, and the Championship teams didn’t know him,” Pardew said.
“We couldn’t get him on loan to a Championship team. No one seemed to know too much about him.
“Fortunately, we got that move to Panathinaikos.”
As for Abeid’s future, Pardew maintains the door at Newcastle was never going to be closed on the gifted Algeria Under-23 international, who has won praise from Panathinaikos manager Giannis Anastasiou over the past few months.
“It wasn’t a case of Mehdi going there because he was finished,” said Pardew. “We wanted him to prove he was a good player. He’s done that. He’s done very well for them.”
Fourth-placed Panathinaikos would love to make Abeid’s move permanent, but the club – whose technical director is former United defender Nicos Dabizas has financial difficulties.
And Dabizas could attempt to secure him on another year-long loan.
Speaking recently, Abeid said: “I feel perfectly fine here.
“I want to continue my adventure with Panathinaikos, but as everyone knows, the decision is not mine.”
Abedi – who has scored five goals for Panathinaikos so far this season – had a loan spell at Scottish Premier League club St Johnstone last term.
He is under contract at Newcastle until the summer of 2016.