NEW signing Vurnon Anita left Champions League football behind at Ajax – but he is confident he will return to the competition with Newcastle United.
Anita yesterday signed a five-year deal at St James’s Park after the two clubs agreed a £6.6m fee.
And the 23-year-old could make his debut against Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow.
Anita – who can play in central midfield and at left-back – is relishing his new challenge in English football.
The Holland international was sold on Newcastle after talks with manager Alan Pardew, and he is hopeful the club can challenge for a top-four place in the Premier League this season after finishing fifth last term.
“I think our main goal is to be in the top four and play in the Champions League, of course, and win some cups,” Anita said.
“Last season was great – they did very well – so this year we must improve.
“The philosophy from the club – everything – is great. They want to play really good football, so I’m happy to be here.”
Anita already has one competitive game under his belt this season – he played 90 minutes for Ajax against AZ Alkmaar last weekend – and he’s ready and willing to be pitched straight in by Pardew, who has a number of injury concerns.
“I can now focus on football, and that’s important,” said Anita.
“I’m fit. I played Sunday for Ajax – 90 minutes – so I’m totally fit.
“It is important for a player that the supporters are behind him. I’m going to do my best to let them enjoy.”
Versatile Anita’s preference is for a central midfield berth, though he knows he faces tough competition with Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye having forged a formidable partnership last season. “My favourite is in the midfield, but I can play left-back or right-back,” he said.
“They are great players – I can learn from them, and they can learn from me. It’s only good for the team.”
Anita came up through the Holland ranks with Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul, and the pair spoke several times before he committed his future to the club.
“I spoke to Tim a few times,” said Anita.
“He told me Newcastle is a great club, and their ambitions are very high, so that’s only good.
“Tim also told me it’s a really, really warm club – everybody’s fighting for the club – so that’s great.”
The Dutch influence won’t just be limited to United’s ranks tomorrow, with his former Ajax team-mate Jan Vertonghen and Rafael van der Vaart in Andre Villas-Boas’s squad.
“I know van der Vaart and Vertonghen – I’m looking forward to it,” said Anita.
“We’re playing at home, and we’re going for the three points. With our supporters behind us, we must give our all.”