Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Solano Back by Popular Demand

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Solano Back by Popular Demand

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Nolberto Solano dramatically completed his "homecoming" late last night in what must rank as one of the most popular pieces of business done by Newcastle United in recent years.

The mutual affection between the Peruvian right-winger and the Magpies' supporters was perhaps crucial in overcoming some major obstacles which could easily have ended the transfer.

Solano was a fans' favourite during his first spell at St James's Park and his time away from the club has done nothing to diminish his popularity.

Even when Michael Owen was officially unveiled at St James's yesterday there were more chants for the 30-year-old than his new pounds 16.5m team-mate. It was noticeable too that Graeme Souness was doing his best to encourage them, gesturing for the fans to make more noise as they chanted Solano's name.

Souness has long recognised the affection Tyneside has for its adopted son and made it known in February he had tried to sign Solano the previous month.

Chairman Freddie Shepherd got the message and pushed through a deal with Aston Villa which, hours before the transfer window closed, he himself had pronounced dead in the water.

Newcastle were forced to up their "final offer" for Solano, and back-track on their insistence that James Milner would not be part of the deal. The former Leeds United player will now move to Villa on a season-long loan.

Souness was adamant that would not be the case early in the afternoon.

The fact Milner was with the England Under-21 squad when his manager had a rethink merely delayed the completition of the deal with the midnight deal fast approaching.

Shepherd declared the matter closed when Villa rejected a "take it or leave it" offer in mid-afternoon. But perhaps the reaction of the supporters to news of Newcastle's initial interest persuaded him to match the pounds 1.5m fee Villa paid for Solano 19 months ago.

Not even the Peruvian's medical was a formality given that he is carrying a thigh strain but the problem was not serious enough to prevent a deal.

Irrespective of that, Solano will not make his second Newcastle debut at home to Fulham on September 10 after picking up a red card ( and a suspension ( in Villa's game against Portsmouth. …

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