Since joining Newcastle United in 2011 as a teenager, Mehdi Abeid’s route to the Magpies first team has been a long one. Loaned out to St Johnstone in his first full season and struggling to adapt to British culture, Abeid could quite easily have been one of the hundreds of young foreign players that never quite make the grade at Premier League level. However, a successful loan spell at Panathanaikos last season saw Abeid return to Tyneside a different man and a player that looked like a Premier League veteran when he made his first-team debut against Liverpool last weekend. Filling a void left by the injured Cheick Tiote is never an easy task but the 22-year-old never looked out of place in the heart of Newcastle’s midfield. Those that remember one of his few previous appearances for the Geordies will have wondered if this was the same man that was part of that horrendous team that was soundly beaten by Brighton in the FA Cup in 2012. On that day, Abeid was by no means the worst offender but looked like a player that would never make the grade. The likes of Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita and the established first-teamers were well ahead of him in the pecking order and Abeid’s future looked bleak. However, after a loan spell in Greece that seen him bag 10 goals in all competitions for Panathanaikos, Alan Pardew gave the Algerian a chance in the Capital One Cup against Gillingham and Crystal Palace. Two yellow cards put a blotch on an otherwise fine performance against the Eagles but another fine display against Manchester City in the next round was followed by a confident game against Liverpool. His strength was impressive – at one point he went shoulder to shoulder with Dejan Lovren and left the Croatian on his backside – and his willingness to show for the ball off the back four was exemplary of a defensive midfielder. Cheick Tiote may remain first choice defensive midfielder when he returns from injury but his future is constantly under scrutiny with other clubs being regularly linked with a move. The Ivorian would normally be considered one of the players Newcastle fans would least like to lose but after Abeid’s breakthrough; the potential blow could be significantly softened. In the summer, Panathanaikos wanted to make Abeid’s loan permanent for a fee of around £300,000. After the defeat of Liverpool and the Capital One Cup run, Newcastle have done some good business in putting the phone down on the Greek giants.