Monday, June 27, 2005
Bernard to Return to Toon?
An interesting piece in today's Northern Echo regarding Olivier Bernard:
Bernard has spoken to Graeme Souness in an attempt to engineer a remarkable return to Newcastle just six months after walking out of the club.
The French full-back has told the Magpies manager he will now accept the original contract offer he turned down when he severed his ties on Tyneside in January.
And, with Bernard's replacement Celestine Babayaro having failed to impress since leaving Chelsea at the turn of the year, Souness is understood to be giving serious consideration to the defender's proposal.
Bernard became embroiled in a long-running contract wrangle during the first half of last season as his representatives attempted to persuade chairman Freddy Shepherd to match the terms of his previous deal.
Shepherd refused to up his offer - Bernard was understood to be wanting £30,000-a-week - and, after a series of increasingly acrimonious exchanges, the 25-year-old joined Southampton in the January transfer window despite having played in all but three of Newcastle's games to that point.
He signed a short-term deal on the south coast and helped bolster a previously porous Saints' defence in the final four months of the campaign. Ultimately, though, he was unable to prevent Southampton dropping out of the Premiership.
That relegation has forced a major reshuffle at St Mary's, with Bernard one of a number of players to be told they will not be offered a new deal.
The Frenchman has been linked with a possible move back to his homeland but, after first crossing the Channel in October 2000, is keen to find a new club in England.
That has led to a considerable climbdown, with Bernard contacting Souness personally to offer his services ahead of the new campaign.