Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping the retention of star midfielder Cheick Tiote will form the basis of a bright new future for the team.
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international has put pen to paper on a six-and-a-half-year deal just seven months after joining the club from Dutch side FC Twente. Tiote's superb form at St James' Park has alerted a series of suitors and sparked speculation that Manchester United and Chelsea among others were preparing summer bids for him.
The fact that striker Andy Carroll left Tyneside last month in a £35million switch to Liverpool a little more than three months after signing a new five-year deal will not be lost on the club's fans, and the news that Jose Enrique and Joey Barton have put their own contract talks on hold until the end of the season remains a concern.
However, Pardew, who has also tied up assistant John Carver on a five-and-a-half-year contract, is confident securing Tiote's future represents a firm statement of intent from owner Mike Ashley and the latest phase of his blueprint for lasting success.
He said: "Negotiations are very, very difficult at this level of football, and I think the signing of Cheick underpins the message Mike wants to give, that we can build a young team here which can go forward and take the club forward.
"Cheick is a big part of that and after the disappointment of Andy leaving, it's a very good statement. Mike wanted to make a statement after Andy leaving that the future can be bright here, and signing Cheick is a big step forward because he's had a fabulous first season. Hopefully now we can build on his signing with others."