Solano is best import - Bobby - 28/01/2003
Sir Bobby Robson last night hailed Nolberto Solano as the best South American import to grace English football for 20 years.
And Newcastle's boss revealed his surprise that United have never received a firm offer from home or abroad for a player with 200 Magpies' appearances under his belt.
As Robson's Champions League challengers prepare to face Tottenham tomorrow, the former Barcelona boss explained: "I don't think there's been a more consistent South American in this country since Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.
"Gus Poyet is the only modern-day player who comes close to Nobby in terms of adapting to the English game and making such an impact at the highest level.
"Many South Americans come here and fail to make the grade and it is not easy to adjust to a different way of playing and a different climate.
"But over the years Nobby has been magnificent for Newcastle United. There is always speculation linking him with a move but I can honestly say that I am not aware of any firm bid. I'm happy about that but is surprises me because he is one of a kind and a valuable asset."
Solano is fighting to retain his place at White Hart Lane tomorrow with Robson once again ready to forgo one of his two wingers in the search for defensive solidity away from home.
However, there is no doubting the Newcastle manager's admiration for United's popular Peruvian and he added: "I actually saw Nobby playing for Boca Juniors when I was doing some scouting work for Barcelona and I liked him then.
"He was playing as a wing-back and, although I was there to watch a different player, I quite liked him on the night.
"He is an incredibly consistent performer even though he's of such slight build. Nobby's not a big fella but he copes with the rigours of the English game incredibly well and that's thanks to his technical ability. "For a small player he's not bad in the air and I know how much our strikers enjoy playing alongside him."
Solano has experienced his fair share of confrontations with Robson during their three-and-a-half seasons together but there is a mutual respect which runs far deeper than any occasional angst.
"Nobby's a nice person and always trains with a smile on his face," added United's disciplinarian boss. "He's learned the language well and that's to his credit. He understands everything I tell him and that makes my job so much easier." Solano was named as a substitute as Newcastle picked up a point from their last trip to the capital and could well make way again following United's 2-2 draw at West Ham.
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