Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is refusing to give up hope of persuading striker Demba Ba to stay at St James' Park.
The 27-year-old is expected to be included in the squad for Wednesday night's Barclays Premier League clash with Everton despite mounting speculation that he will leave Tyneside during this month's transfer window.
However, asked if he expects Ba to remain a Magpies player, Pardew said: "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."
Pardew has already indicated that, should Ba not leave this month, he will be sold during the summer if he refused to sign a new contract which erases the controversial Â£7million release clause which has caused the club such consternation in recent months.
Efforts to negotiate a more straightforward deal have so far come to nothing, and Pardew has warned the former Hoffenheim man that while that offer is still on the table, it may not be there for too much longer.
He said: "The situation with that is that it's getting close to the point where we say 'no more', but the offer is still there."
The speculation surrounding Ba has gathered pace in the last 48 hours after it emerged that Chelsea had held talks, later described as "unproductive", with the player's representatives. Newcastle have grown increasingly frustrated with the network of people surrounding the Senegal international, and that details of his contract have become public knowledge.
Pardew said: "The difference is that the contract terms have been widely put around, and that's been our problem, and as I say people getting involved who perhaps have no right to be involved because of that situation.
"It has been difficult - it's difficult for our fans because they love Demba and they want to see him in a black and white shirt.
"He is scoring goals for us and offensively, we look potent again, which is good news for us, so ideally he stays."