Newcastle United legend Malcolm Macdonald says the club’s central midfield partnership of Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote is the best in the Premier League.
French international Cabaye is enjoying a successful first season in English football following a summer move from Lille for a reported £4.3m. Ivorian Tiote joined the Magpies in August 2010 and has made a big impression on Tyneside.
Macdonald believes the pair have proved they are the best in the division, and he says their differing styles complement each other’s game.
“You look at Manchester United at the moment and they can’t find a pairing that suits them,” claims Macdonald.
“Chelsea are also chopping and changing and Arsenal’s midfield now isn’t as good as it was a season or two back but Newcastle’s is absolutely brilliant. He [Cabaye] and Tiote have forged the most fabulous midfield partnership and Newcastle know when one of them is missing. I would take these two any day of the week. Cabaye makes goals, he scores goals, he gets both widemen playing, they both give brilliant coverage to the back four and I don’t think there is a better central midfield pairing.”
The Magpies are currently without Tiote and top goalscorer Demba Ba, both of whom are on international duty at the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast and Senegal respectively.
Macdonald netted 138 times in 257 appearances for the Magpies between 1971-76, and he says owner Mike Ashley must keep players like Ba if the club want to build for the future, even if that means he offers the striker an improved contract.
“When you’re scoring goals on a regular basis like Demba Ba you pay them more because they’re rare,” says Macdonald – nicknamed SuperMac for his own goalscoring pedigree.
“It’s a matter of going with the market rates. If you don’t go accordingly then you’ll keep losing your better players.”
Ba has surprised Macdonald with his 15-goal haul this season, form which SuperMac believes makes him a serious contender to win the PFA Player of the Season award.
“When the PFA get all their members to vote I would expect Demba Ba is the one who has impressed all the players round the country the most. He had a phenomenal 2011 when you consider what he did at West Ham who were bottom of the table and now what he’s doing at Newcastle. I would love him to score another 15 and hit that magical figure of 30. It’s a very high target and very few players get there, but if you’re going to be hugely successful in football you have to set your targets ridiculously high.”