Ex-Newcastle star Yohan Cabaye lifts lid on secret talks that almost saw him join Aston Villa

Yohan Cabaye has revealed he came close to joining Aston Villa before becoming a cult hero at Newcastle United. The Frenchman's time at Newcastle was a major success with the old chant of "don't sell Cabaye" ringing around Premier League grounds during a three-year stint with the Magpies. However, it could have all been very different for the man signed from Lille.

In an interview this week Cabaye exclusively told Ladbrokes 1-2-Free: "My goal was always to play in the Premier League. I always wanted to play there because, for me, it's the best league in the world... by far.

"In December 2010, I visited Aston Villa's training ground and stadium, because they had Gerard Houllier at the time. I spoke with him, and he explained the project, and I was happy.

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"It sounded like a good moment for me to move to England, but I explained to him that I was going to wait until the end of the season, because I was in a title race with Lille at the time, and I wanted to make my decision at the end of the season, rather than in the January.

"So, I kept playing with Lille and we were edging closer and closer to the title, and the French Cup - that was all I was focused on.

"And then, at the end of March, or April, my agent called me to say Newcastle were also in the race. I was happy to listen to what they were going to propose in terms of an offer.

"I knew the history of Newcastle because David Ginola had played there, Laurent Robert, too. There were a lot of French connections with the club. I knew the stadium was fantastic, I knew the atmosphere was incredible, and I said the same to them; I wanted to win the French league, and then think about my decision.

"I then had a call from Gerard who explained to me that he wouldn't be continuing as manager of Aston Villa, and so from that moment, it was always going to be Newcastle. I wanted to sign because of the history, because of the fans, and because of Alan Pardew."

Cabaye built up the praise on Pardew despite his 2014 exit when the midfielder was sold to Paris St-Germain. The ex-Toon star said: "In terms of leadership, and management, for me, Alan Pardew was really good. He knew how to get the best out of his players, especially in my first season, when we finished fifth. My relationship with him is still fantastic.

"We don't speak often, but when we do, it's always a pleasure for me to speak with him. He's the person who gave me the chance to settle and adapt so quickly in England."