Chelsea's hopes of signing Newcastle striker Demba Ba have suffered an early blow after unproductive discussions over his future, according to multiple reports.
Chelsea officials met the 27-year-old's representatives on Sunday night and the deal on the table reportedly did not come close to meeting the point where he would consider leaving St James' Park.
According to the Daily Mail, Ba earns 20,000 pounds ($32,486) per week plus 20,000 pounds in appearance fees and hoped to double that figure with his new contract, a prospect at which Chelsea balked.
However, while the Ba camp has indicated that the Senegal international does not now expect to be playing his football at Stamford Bridge next month, it is likely that the impasse represents only the initial skirmish in a battle which could run and run.
The Blues are among a series of clubs to have been linked with the former West Ham frontman, who scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season at Arsenal on Saturday, with the 7-million-pound release-clause ($11.3 million) in his contract due to become active once again on Jan. 1.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Ba would receive 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) himself from the buyout.
However, as yet, the Magpies insist they are yet to receive a bid that would trigger that clause.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is growing increasingly weary of the Ba saga, saying Monday he feels "sorry" for Ba because he feels he's getting bad advice.
In some respects, I feel a little bit sorry for Demba as well because I think people who are representing him are not actually representing him.” -- Newcastle manager Alan Pardew
"In some respects, I feel a little bit sorry for Demba as well because I think people who are representing him are not actually representing him," he said. "There are people out there who are saying this who are not actually involved or want to be involved, and that's the sort of world we are in.
"The contract is what it is, we are all aware of that, and for me as the manager I need it resolved as quickly as possible. That's the best situation for our fans and for the club."
Newcastle have spent recent months attempting to negotiate a new contract with Ba which would remove the clause and that remains on the table.
However, Pardew insisted it would not do so indefinitely.
"The situation with that is that it's getting close to the point where we say 'no more', but the offer is still there," he said.
The deal Ba signed when he joined Newcastle during the summer of 2011 was intensely complicated as a result of the medical condition of his knee, and they have spent recent months attempting to renegotiate it.
However, the two sides have been unable to reach agreement and with the player's network of representatives clearly active behind the scenes, the waters are becoming increasingly muddied by the day.
What is clear is that any deal would cost significantly more than 7 million pounds ($11.3 million) when he signs after and agent fees, as well as a lucrative wage packet, are taken into consideration.
Information from Press Association Sport was used in this report.