Islam Slimani determined to make an impact in Newcastle United loan

Islam Slimani (right) challenges keeper Jordan Pickford in Leicester's visit to Sunderland last season
Islam Slimani (right) challenges keeper Jordan Pickford in Leicester's visit to Sunderland last season

Islam Slimani says it was an easy decision to join Newcastle United – despite interest from a clutch of European clubs.

Slimani joined on loan from Leicester City on transfer deadline day.

The striker was also a target for a number of clubs, including West Ham United, Besiktas and Monaco.

However, Slimani was sold on a move to relegation-threatened Newcastle for two reasons – the club’s fans and manager Rafa Benitez.

And the 29-year-old – who will miss Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park because of a thigh injury – arrived on a private jet on deadline day after a “complicated” 24 hours.

“It’s a great thing for me – and for Newcastle,” said Slimani. “I’m happy to be here, and hopefully I’m going to be able to come here and give them a hand.

It’s true that there were a lot of clubs that were interested in me, but, knowing the power of the fans and the 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.

Islam Slimani

“The last 24 hours were complicated, but I think I’ve made the right choice. It’s a big club, and I’m definitely happy with my choice.

“It’s true that there were a lot of clubs that were interested in me, but, knowing the power of the fans and the 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 great reputation, so him calling me and having him behind me here had a big impact on my choice.”

Like winger Kenedy, signed on loan from Chelsea last month, Slimani watched the movie “Goal!” when he was a budding footballer.

The 2005 film, the first of a trilogy, was set around Newcastle. Slimani said: “When I was young, the film ‘Goal!’ was around, but, more importantly, there were legendary players like Alan Shearer.

“It was obvious for me how big a club it was. I know the atmosphere inside the club and how much the fans love this club, and that played a big role in my decision to come here.”

United’s top scorer this season is Joselu with four goals. And Benitez desperately needed more firepower for the second half of the Premier League season.

“I think I’m a goalscorer,” said the Algeria international.

“That’s what this team needs – it needs more goals –and that’s what I’ll try to do in my time here; score as many goals as I possibly can.

“Competition exists in any team you play for, and having good, healthy competition is great for the team and also for the players individually, so I think it’ll be a good thing for me and the club.

“They key thing here is staying up and fighting for the team – and that’s exactly what I want to do. My objective is to make this team better, fight to remain in the Premier League. That’s what I joined this club for.”

Meanwhile, Jack Colback is keen to get back on the field with loan club Nottingham Forest – after a “difficult few months” at Newcastle.

Colback was frozen out by Benitez last August after playing in the club’s early pre-season friendlies.

The midfielder was told he didn’t have a future at St James’s Park and sent to train at the Academy, but he failed to secure a move away before the summer transfer window closed.

Colback, under contract at United for another 18 months, joined Championship club Forest on loan until the end of the season late on deadline day.

“It’s nice to get out on loan and hopefully play some games,” said the Killingworth-born player. “It’s been a difficult few months for me, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity here.

“The club were very keen to get it done – that was a big factor.

“They showed a lot of interest, and I’ve heard lots of good things about the manager (Aitor Karanka) from players who have played for him before.”