By Tom Blackburn
Moussa Sissoko has revealed he is searching for a new club following Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship, with his heart set on Champions League football.
Sissoko’s future has been heavily in doubt ever since Newcastle’s relegation, and despite Rafa Benitez committing his future to the club, the Frenchman admits he would welcome a move and has specifically targeted Arsenal.
Unsurprisingly, the 26-year-old has no plans to play in England’s second tier despite being a central player in the team that was relegated from the Premier League.
Sissoko has told Benitez he wants to quit the north-east club and also where he wants to play next season, although he claimed no agreement is in place with Arsenal.
On his future at St James’ Park, the midfielder told French publication Foot Mercato: “Today, if I play in the Championship, I will put my place with the French national team in jeopardy.
“I have already had a discussion with [Rafa Benitez]. My advisors will also have a discussion with him. I think that he knows what I want, and where I want to go. So I hope that there will not be a problem.”
Sissoko joined Newcastle from Toulouse in 2013 and has since made 132 appearances, scoring 12 times. However, he had a disappointing 2015/16 campaign with his only goal in 39 appearances coming against Swansea in April.
Despite that form, the midfielder is currently in France with his national team ahead of their Euro 2016 opener against Romania on Friday, and he made it clear that if Arsenal were interested he would happily leave Newcastle.
“I would like to continue my career in England. Arsenal is one of the best European teams. To be watched by that sort of club, that proves that you are a quality player,” said Sissoko to Foot Mercato.
“I hope that I will have the chance, soon, to play for this club or for a similar club. Everyone knows, I often said it when I was young, Arsenal is the club of my heart.
“There were quite a few French players there like Thierry Henry, Robert Pirès, Sylvain Wiltord, and Patrick Vieira who were my idols.
“Personally I have not spoken with the club (Newcastle), but my advisors have. I do not know if they will let me go, but, I hope so with all my heart.
“The beautiful Arsenal. We will see. I cannot tell you if I am going to go to Arsenal.”
In other Newcastle news, a star player has been offered a £55,000-a-week contract amid interest from rival clubs.