Slimani out to fire Magpies up the table
Written by Tom Easterby
Deadline day signing Islam Slimani says he wants to score the goals that propel Newcastle United up the Premier League table after he completed his loan move from Leicester City on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old penned a deal which will keep him at St. James’ Park until the end of the season, becoming one of two loan arrivals on the last day of the January transfer window along with Sparta Prague goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka.
And Algerian international Slimani has set his sights on bagging the goals that would help the Magpies retain their Premier League status.
“I’m a goalscorer, and this is what this team needs – they need more goals,” he told NUFC TV. “That is what I’ll try and do during my time here – score as many goals as I possibly can.
“The key thing here is staying up and fighting for the team and that’s exactly what I want to do – my objective here is to make this team better, to fight to remain in the Premier League and this is what I came to do and joined the club for.”
Reports this week suggested there was plenty of interest in Slimani prior to his move to Newcastle in the final hours of the window, but the frontman – who has scored 26 in 55 caps for his country – believes he made a good choice, saying the influence of manager Rafa Benítez was a big factor in his decision to head to Tyneside.
“The last 24 hours have been complicated but I have made the right choice. It’s a big club and I’m definitely happy with my choice,” he said.
“It’s true there were a lot of clubs that were interested in me, but knowing the power of the fans and crowd here and how great they are, and also speaking to the manager, it gave me the confidence to know that this was the right choice.
“Rafa Benitez is a big coach with a big reputation, so him calling and him being here had a big effect on my choice.”
And after fellow new recruit Kenedy explained that the 2006 film Goal! – in which the main character joins Newcastle – had made him aware of the club as a youngster, Slimani admitted that he’d also seen United on the big screen.
The former Sporting Lisbon striker is also looking forward to making his bow in front of the Magpies faithful.
“I know the atmosphere inside the club and how much the fans love the club. That played a big role in my decision to come here,” he said.
“Newcastle is a historical club so I’ve known about it from a very young age. When I was young the film Goal! was around, but more importantly, with legendary players like Alan Shearer it was obvious for me how big a club this is.”
“I’m a goalscorer, and this is what this team needs – they need more goals. That is what I’ll try and do during my time here – score as many goals as I possibly can."