Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew insists there is still a chance Demba Ba will stay on Tyneside even though the striker has become the prize catch for some of the Premier League’s top clubs in the January transfer window.
Reports have claimed talks over Ba’s proposed move to Chelsea has stalled as the Senegal international looks to secure lucrative personal terms, but the £7 million release clause in his contract means a move in the January transfer window remains a distinct possibility.
However, Pardew - who gave Ba his chance to prove his worth as a top-class Premier League striker despite injury doubts - is trying to stay positive.
“There is still a chance Demba could stay with us,” Pardew says. “There has been lots of speculation around this situation for the last few weeks and the truth is Demba’s future is out of our hands because of this clause in his contract. So it is probably his decision whether he stays or not, but that option is there for him.
“His contract terms have been widely put around - that’s been the problem. It means people are getting involved who perhaps have no right to be involved because of that situation, but I know how much the Newcastle fans have warmed to Demba in his time here and they want to see him continuing in the black-and-white shirt.”
Pardew has spent many a long hour scouting players in France over the last few weeks and he has confirmed he is looking to strengthen his fragile defensive line in the January transfer window, with a deal for Lille full-back Mathieu Debuchy likely to be the first piece of business he does in this transfer window.
“We need some defenders and I have given this message to the board,” he adds, after seeing his side lose 4-3 at Manchester United and 7-3 at Arsenal in recent days. “My disappointment after the Manchester United defeat was as big as it has been after any defeat in recent years. To go to Old Trafford, score three times, hit the post and the crossbar and come away losing was hard to take.
“When you consider we were without many of our senior players, the performance we put in against the league leaders was fantastic and yet we continue to give away soft goals and it cost us dearly once again.
“At Arsenal, we showed some good signs again, but some of the goals we gave away were not good enough. This is an area we need to improve on if we are to take strides forward.”
Meanwhile, Ba has dismissed suggestions he is motivated by the desire for personal wealth.
“Something which is easy for me to give is money,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “I feel detached from it. I look after myself and my family, but I won't forget people who struggle. The money I earn is not just for me - it is made for me to give to the people.
“My father lives in Senegal most of the time, and my mother goes there for five months a year. They are from similar villages, and know how to distribute money to people who need it. For me, it's not about being Demba Ba, or a footballer, or at Newcastle. I'm no better than anybody else.”