Players | Managers | Clubs | Grounds | National Teams | Leagues & Cups
    The Beautiful Game
    Football Stories
  My Quick Links:
    Newcastle United
    St James Park
    Glenn Roeder


Press article:

Luque can be a Premier Star - 08/12/2005

   Aston Villa

Nolberto Solano has thrown a protective arm around Newcastle United's misfiring Spaniard Albert Luque by insisting the forward has the ability to become one of the best players in the Premiership.

As United's other Spanish speaker, Solano has established a close friendship with United's £9.5m signing from Deportivo La Coruña.

But, while the popular Peruvian has asked Newcastle's supporters to be patient with their expensive new arrival as he makes his comeback from a serious hamstring injury, he has also suggested that he is having to tell Luque (pictured) to do the same.

Luque has started just three games since his summer move from the Iberian peninsula after tearing his hamstring during the 1-1 draw against Fulham on September 10 and the 27-year-old has struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premiership on his return to the first-team fold.

"Albert has been very frustrated because he has not been able to show Newcastle United fans what he can do," said Solano, who has also admitted that United fans are yet to see the best of him since his return from Aston Villa on transfer deadline day.

"He has come back into the side, but he has not been fully fit. There was a moment against Wigan when I played him through and he just couldn't get into his stride.

"He was worried about his hamstring, but he is getting stronger and fitter the whole time and each game that comes he will get better and better. He is a wonderful player, a regular Spanish international and I think he can become a star at Newcastle United. He has the ability to be one of the best players in the Premiership."

Solano is well aware of how difficult it can be for players from a Latin football background to gain a foothold in the Premiership having swapped the sweltering conditions of Boco Juniors in Argentina for life on Tyneside seven years ago. But he is confident Luque has the mental qualities, as well as the football ability, to match the success he has enjoyed in English football.

"I know it has been tough for him because I've done the same thing," said Solano. "He has come to a new club, in a new country and that is a very difficult thing to do. It is even more difficult to do when you're injured.

"Obviously I speak Spanish and so does he so I talk to him a lot. I am trying to help him settle as much as I can and he is happy to be at Newcastle United. He just wants to be able to show what he is capable of. It's the worst thing for a footballer when you join a new club and pick up an injury straight away.

"Albert has not played very much football in six months. He has hardly played since the end of last season. He missed a lot of pre-season and then got a bad injury in his second game for Newcastle."

Solano, though, has also admitted that, such is the level of Luque's determination to do well, that he has had to be reminded not to get too disheartened by his failure to make any impact of note since his return to the side.

Indeed, as Solano has pointed out, other Spanish players, like Arsenal's Antonio Reyes, have also needed time to adapt to English conditions and competition. He said: "He desperately wants to do well and show that the money spent on him was a good choice. I have told him to be patient.

"It took me a while to settle into English football when I came over from South America. It's a different culture, a different mentality and it takes time to adjust to it all.

"I have told him it will be a lot quicker and a lot more physical than the Spanish league and I think he realises that now.

"I've also pointed out to him that it often takes a bit of time for Spanish players to adapt. Look at (Jose Antonio) Reyes at Arsenal, but now he is a regular in the side and playing well.

"Good players can play anywhere. They can adapt and Albert is a very good player. He will improve game by game and Newcastle will see the benefits. I'm very excited about playing in the same side as him."

The Journal

What is your opinion about this article?
Start a new topic at our forum!

Print article