“He’s going to be a really big favourite here”
Mandanda, 31, is the eldest of four goalkeeping brothers and has been named Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year on four occasions.
Pardew, whose side host Stoke today, cannot understand why none of the Premier League big-boys were interested in signing the Congo-born star.
He said: “What baffled me is why none of the big clubs here went for him.
“I did actually think that maybe I was making an error because there weren’t many runners for him, but when I saw him I was so impressed. He has kind of gone under the radar a little bit but, remember, that he has played the last two games for France and played very well.
“He’s a very, very high-quality goalkeeper.”
Pardew has made big decisions when it comes to his keepers over the last two seasons – with crowd favourite Speroni being replaced by Wales hero Hennessey at the start of last campaign.
He added: “The goalkeeper situation has been easy in so much as I have a great set of characters here.
“Speroni I don’t need to speak about, he speaks for himself, but Wayne Hennessey’s personality is just fantastic, Alex McCarthy’s was and now Steve’s is.