Maiga goes on strike as Newcastle sign a replacement goalkeeper
MADIBO Maiga has threatened to remain on strike indefinitely unless French club Sochaux agree a deal to allow him to move to Newcastle United. However, while the Magpies are expected to make one signing today with Charlton goalkeeper Rob Elliot due to move to the North-East to replace Celtic-bound Fraser Forster, there is unlikely to be any movement on a new striker ahead of the weekend. Maiga has refused to play in this evening's Europa League play-off with Metalist Kharkiv, and was omitted from the Sochaux squad that flew to Ukraine yesterday. The 23-year-old is determined to move to Tyneside, but negotiations between his current employers and senior Magpies officials have failed to produce an agreement despite Alan Pardew's determination to push through a transfer before Saturday's Wear-Tyne derby. Sochaux are refusing to accept Newcastle's offer for the striker, which is understood to have been around £7m, while the Magpies are adamant they will not be drawn into a bidding war despite their obvious need for attacking reinforcements. As a result, the Mali international is effectively in limbo, but he has told Sochaux boss Mecha Bazdarevic he does not want to be considered for subsequent matches as he has already decided his future lies with Newcastle. Having already ruled himself out of tonight's European game, Maiga is now insisting he will not be playing for Sochaux this weekend. I am sorry for the fans, my team-mates and the staff, said Maiga. But I am not in the best conditions to play (against Metalist Kharkiv). It is better for the team to get focused well that I don't play. About Newcastle, it is very clear they want me and I want to go there. They want the transfer to be sorted quickly, but it is not up to me. The worry is Sochaux. Further talks are planned for later today, but at the moment it appears as though neither party is particularly keen to give ground. Newcastle are continuing to monitor alternative targets, but with the end of the transfer window approaching, clubs with coveted strikers are piling an extra £1-2m on their asking price. The same is true of the left-backs they are tracking, and again it now looks extremely unlikely that they will have a new defender available to face Sunderland. Erik Pieters remains their leading target, but despite devoting considerable time and attention to their pursuit of the Holland international, Newcastle are no closer to agreeing a deal. Indeed, if anything, they are further away from a successful resolution than ever, with Pieters having been included in the PSV Eindhoven squad for tonight's Europa League encounter with Austrian side SV Ried. Predictably enough, finance is once again the major issue, with Newcastle reluctant to meet both PSV Eindhoven's £6m asking price and Pieters' wage demands, which are understood to be around £32,000-a-week. Toulouse defender Cheik M'Bengue remains an alternative, although he can hardly be described as a cut-price option given his employers' desire to secure at least £6m for his services, while this week's loan inquiry about Manchester City's Wayne Bridge suggests a degree of desperation creeping into Newcastle's search for a replacement for Jose Enrique. Ironically, given the pressing need for reinforcements, the next piece of completed transfer business involving Newcastle will concern a player leaving St James' Park. Celtic made a renewed approach for Forster yesterday, and are close to completing a second successive loan deal for the Hexham-born goalkeeper, with a view to a permanent move next summer. Forster, who spent last season on loan at Parkhead, was Newcastle's substitute goalkeeper as they drew 0-0 with Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season. The Magpies have wasted no time in securing a replacement, as they were last night tying up the loose ends of Elliot's move from the Valley. The 25-year-old worked with Newcastle's goalkeeping coach, Andy Woodman, when he was employed in south London, and has made more than 100 senior appearances for the Addicks. He has been between the sticks in all of Charlton's league games this season, helping them to the top of League One courtesy of three successive victories. Meanwhile, a Newcastle XI featuring summer signings Sylvain Marveaux and Mehdi Abeid beat Gateshead 5-0 in a behind-closed-doors game at the club's Darsley Park training ground yesterday afternoon. The Newcastle side featured two defensive trialists, Lens duo William Remy, 20, and Darnel Situ, 19, who are both French youth internationals.
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