Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Souness Hails His Man of Fire

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Souness Hails His Man of Fire

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Given that Graeme Souness has felt the heat rising during the opening fortnight of the Premiership season, his assessment of the character of his new pounds 9m signing Albert Luque last night was fitting.

"I have been told that Albert is the kind of player who would be willing to put his hand into the fire for me," said the Newcastle manager of a player who has a pivotal part in determining whether his Tyneside tenure succeeds or fails.

With so much at stake as the misfiring Magpies prepare to welcome Manchester United to St James's Park tomorrow, Souness can ill afford to have his fingers burned in the transfer market.

But, having insisted that Luque possesses the requisite qualities to establish himself as one of the club's most-successful overseas acquisitions, the United boss will have no qualms about pitching the 27-year-old into the midst of his struggling side's fight to revive their troubled campaign.

"I have spoken to one of my best friends (Michael Robinson), who is deeply involved in Spanish football, and he has told me all about Luque's personality," said a manager aware that comparisons were already being drawn in some quarters with the work-shy Laurent Robert following the arrival of the skilful left-sider. "I'm big on personalities and it is something we have enquired about. How long it takes to settle in depends on the player, but the obvious one to look at is Emre.

"He hasn't taken five minutes to work out what's going on and I think Luque will work it out very quickly as well, we will see if he can fit into the Premiership as quickly."

The last Spaniard to represent Newcastle was Marcelino who, having been signed for pounds 6m by Ruud Gullit, started just 19 matches during four disastrous years in the North-East before departing in 2002 with a pounds 500,000 pay-off. If Souness is correct, the irksome defender's compatriot ( a former team-mate of Marcelino at Real Mallorca ( is a different proposition.

"I think Luque is extremely talented, he has a cannon in his left boot and he is a classy player," said the United boss after the former Deportivo La Coru-a favourite signed a five-year deal at St James's Park last night. "I think he's a valuable addition to the squad, someone who can give us real quality in both positions (playing wide or as a central striker).

"He will bring us a certain amount of goals and he will give us width if we choose to play him wide on the left. He is naturally left-footed and he is a wonderful striker of a ball. He is a clever footballer who will give us that little bit of class that we have been missing in that area."

Luque's signing was registered with the Premier League in time for him to be eligible to face Sir Alex Ferguson's side with the international clearance arriving at the English FA from their counterparts in Spain last night. …

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