The Newcastle hero wrote in the Evening Chronicle: "Mehdi is a guy I know really well because when he started in England I would do some of the translation for him at Newcastle.
"I really like him as a person and I think he is a terrific footballer as well, but I must admit that when he first came to Newcastle he wasn't ready for it. He made great progress at first but he wasn't ready. He wasn't physically ready and maybe he wasn't mentally ready.
"He asked me whether to go on loan last year and he asked me again this year whether he should leave. I told him yes to the loan but I said 'No, don't leave. You can prove yourself at Newcastle'. I think that was always his opinion. He didn't want to leave, he wanted to show Newcastle what he could do and he stayed.
"He was fantastic against West Brom and Liverpool and it is such a shame he is injured now. But he will come back from it."
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