Amalfitano leaves Newcastle Utd for Dijon

Romain Amalfitano.

Romain Amalfitano.

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ROMAIN Amalfitano has become the latest fringe player to leave Newcastle United after joining French side Dijon on a permanent deal.

Amalfitano spent last season on loan at the French second tier outfit, who have now handed him a three-year deal.

It brings to an end a desperately disappointing two years on Tyneside for the 24-year-old, who is the brother of former West Brom loanee Morgan.

He joined Newcastle from Reims in 2012, and was immediately earmarked as a player who would be nurtured in the development teams at St James’s Park before getting any first-team chances.

However, Amalfitano made just five senior appearances for the club – all of which came in the Europa League – and failed to convince at Under-21 level.

Last summer, he was loaned out to Dijon, and he did enough in his 24 Ligue 2 appearances for the club to convince them to snap him up on a permanent basis.

After confirming the signing of Amalfitano, Dijon president Olivier Delcourt claimed it took the club half a season to get the player into peak shape after his frustrating first year at Newcastle.

He said: “After the first six months, he had to regain his physical fitness, but Romain then proved he could be valuable in organising the game and set pieces.

“He is a smart player and blends into the squad perfectly.”

Amalfitano joins fellow fringe player James Tavernier in leaving St James’s Park so far this summer.

Tavernier completed a move to Wigan Athletic earlier this week.

Others, including Dan Gosling, Conor Newton and Shola Ameobi, have also left Tyneside.

NEWCASTLE United legend Frank Clark feels strengthening the defence should not be a priority for the club this summer.

United shipped 59 goals in the Premier League last season, with only five clubs conceding more.

However, Clark, who was part of the last Newcastle team to win a major trophy in 1969, believes Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor, along with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, have earned their chance to continue next season.

The former defender said: “They are all very good Premier League players.

“They are all centre-backs, so unless you play three at the back, you can’t get them all in the team at the same time.

“Williamson has done very, very well, and has surprised me a little bit.

“Taylor is a local boy, whose heart and soul is in the club.

“Coloccini is a top, top defender, so I think if they keep those three together, they will be OK there. They obviously need to invest elsewhere in the squad.”

Clark played for the Magpies between 1962 and 1975, and only three players have played more games for the club than his 457.

Like Taylor, he started his professional career at St James’s Park, before leaving for Nottingham Forest to spend the twilight of his career at the City Ground.

At Forest, Clark went on to win the European Cup, and later served time as their manager and chairman.

He is proof that long-serving defenders at their hometown club can go on to have a successful time elsewhere, and with Taylor currently being linked with a move, he could soon find himself in a similar situation to Clark in 1975.

However, the Newcastle legend is unsure whether leaving St James’s Park would be right for Taylor.

Clark added: “It depends on his own circumstances.

“It’s about his contract, his ambition, whether he feels he is being fairly treated.

“It’s also a question of whether he sees his long-term future here or he wants to go somewhere else and play every week. That would be a question for Steven.”