Chelsea have suffered an early blow in their hopes of signing Newcastle United striker Demba Ba in January after unproductive discussions over his future.
Ba, 27, has a £7.5 million clause in the deal he signed when he moved to the north east from West Ham in 2011 which means he could be sold in January if a club meets the fee. And, according to the Daily Mail, the Blues were ready to offer a £2 million loyalty payment in order to seal his move to Stamford Bridge.
However, it is now understood that club officials met Ba’s representatives on Sunday night but that the personal terms on the table did not come close to what he expects to earn for leaving St James’s Park.
The Senegal international’s brace in the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday took his goal total for the season up to 13, more than the rest of the Newcastle squad put together and one behind the Premier League's leading marksman Robin van Persie, and a host of clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG have been linked with moves for him.
Roman Abramovich is thought to have made Atletico Madrid forward Radamel Falcao his number one target but, with the Colombia international insisting he will see out the season at the Vicente Calderon, the Chelsea owner has been forced to look elsewhere.
Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez, however, refused to be drawn on questions over reports he was set to sign Ba this weekend.
"We don’t talk about our business in public," he said after his side beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park. "My job is to prepare the games. This is a player that is playing for another team so I don’t want to talk about him."
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew admitted that he was growing increasingly weary of the situation and hit out at Ba's advisors.
He said: "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. 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.
"I still think it's even whether he will stay or go. In this window, I would like to think he will stay in the situation we are in. But that will be probably his decision."
Newcastle have spent recent months attempting to negotiate a new contract with Ba which would remove the clause and that remains on the table. But Pardew insisted they would not wait forever.
He added: "The situation with that is that it's getting close to the point where we say 'no more', but the offer is still there.''