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Pardew confident Ba will remain with Magpies
Alan Pardew is confident Demba Ba will remain with Newcastle United next month, but has revealed the club will look to sell the striker in the summer if they are unable to agree a new deal that removes all mention of a buy-out clause.
Ba continues to be linked with a move away from St James' Park when the transfer window opens as a clause in his current contract enables him to speak to any club that makes a £7.5m offer. Arsenal, Chelsea and Paris St Germain have all been monitoring Ba's situation closely in recent weeks, and the ongoing uncertainty is contributing to the mounting anxiety that has accompanied the Magpies' plunge down the Premier League table.
Given his 11-goal contribution to the cause, Newcastle can ill afford to lose the Senegal international in next month's transfer window, but even though he is effectively a hostage to events, Pardew is confident he will hold on to his leading goalscorer.
"If he goes in this window it will cause us a problem, but I think he'll stay." said the Magpies manager.
"There's a possibility he could go because the clause is still in force, but he has always given me the indication he wants to play here. Personally, I think there is a good chance he will stay. The way he has been committed to the place, the way the fans appreciate him here, I think he'll find it difficult to find a better home. I also think we've talked about it enough really if I'm honest. The decision will be made in January whether he stays or whether he goes."
Even if Ba remains on Tyneside next month, however, the speculation will not completely disappear until his contractual status alters. For as long as he remains on his current deal, every transfer window will bring a new bout of uncertainty relating to the buyout clause. Therefore, if the 27-year-old is to remain a Newcastle player beyond the summer, he will have to agree to a new deal that removes the clause. That will not be simple, and talks over a proposed contract broke down earlier this season when Newcastle's owner, Mike Ashley, refused to acquiesce to Ba's wage demands, which are understood to have been around £80,000-a-week.
The striker clearly feels he deserves to be compensated for the removal of the buyout clause, but having stood firm in the face of inflated demands from the likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique in the past, Ashley and Derek Llambias will not be backed into a corner by Ba and his numerous representatives.
"I think we'll have to make a decision in the summer because of his age and his contract situation." said Pardew.
"If he isn't going to renew with us, we can't have this hanging over us any more. That is a decision we will all make. But I won't let it run in the summer. I'll do something about it. We'll either move him on or secure him in the summer."
Ba is not the only striker causing the Newcastle hierarchy headaches at the moment as a senior Magpies delegation is currently locked in talks with officials from the Nigerian FA in an attempt to clarify Shola Ameobi's position in relation to next month's Africa Cup of Nations. The Nigerian FA have named Ameobi in their provisional squad for the tournament in South Africa, even though Pardew had previously claimed the 31-year-old would not be involved. When Ameobi signed a two-year contract extension in 2011, Newcastle officials believed they had secured a tacit understanding that the striker would not pursue his international ambitions against the wishes of his manager.
However, The Northern Echo understands Ameobi has recently altered his stance and expressed a desire to play for Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations, a shift that places his employers in a difficult position. Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi has dropped Obafemi Martins and Peter Odemwingie in order to accommodate Ameobi in his squad, and has claimed he will request that FIFA suspend the Newcastle forward for the duration of the tournament if the Magpies refuse to release him.
"It's something we're trying to clear up with the authorities at the minute." said Pardew, who is already resigned to losing Cheik Tiote to Ivory Coast.
"I don't really want to say any more than that. We seem to have two different messages coming out, but we should hopefully sort that out in the next couple of days and have a more definitive answer."
There was at least some better news for Pardew yesterday with confirmation that Vurnon Anita sustained nothing more serious than heavy bruising to his ankle in the Boxing Day defeat at Manchester United. Anita will not be involved in tomorrow's game at Arsenal, but should be available for next Wednesday's home match with Everton.
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