ALAN Pardew has promised next month’s will be the final episode of the Demba Ba soap opera.
Newcastle United have spent every transfer window since the Senegal striker signed unsure whether he would be there by its end. January will be no different.
But if Ba stays – and Pardew is confident he will – he has promised to end the uncertainty by either renegotiating the 27-year-old’s contract or selling him.
“Really and truly this window is the key, I think, because if Demba goes in this window, it will cause us a problem,” said Pardew of his 11-goal top scorer.
A clause in Ba’s contract means if anyone bids £7.5m for him, Newcastle are powerless to stop him leaving if he chooses.
Having kept Ba for two transfer windows since Harry Redknapp made the clause public, Newcastle are hopeful they can do so again. A failed medical which stopped him joining Stoke City in January 2011 means he is widely regarded as a risky signing.
The Magpies saw it as a risk worth taking because they did not have to pay a fee once Ba’s then-club West Ham United were relegated. But a new club would, and would need to match wage demands thought to be £80,000 a week. They would also have to persuade the striker joining them would represent a step up.
“Personally (I think) there is a good chance he could stay,” said Pardew. “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. He’s always put out for us and he’s
scored more than anyone else for us (in 2012).”
Newcastle have tried and failed to renegotiate Ba’s contract in 2012, but have been unwilling to pay the extra wages he has demanded to compensate for losing the clause.
Once Ba enters the final 12 months of his three-year deal, Pardew feels the dynamic will change.
“We’ll have to make a decision (in the summer) because of his age and his contract situation,” he said.
“If he isn’t going to renew with us, we can’t have this hanging over us anymore.
“That is a decision we will all make.”
Newcastle hope to be in a stronger bargaining position by then, with Marseille’s Loïc Rémy top of their striker shopping list.
Of more immediate concern is Shola Ameobi, named in Nigeria’s provisional squad for January’s African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Newcastle are keeping their counsel after Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi claimed there was a clause in Ameobi’s contract preventing him playing. Such a clause would break Fifa rules, but Pardew was confident enough to tell the media after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers Ameobi would not been selected.
“It will be resolved by the weekend, it’s delicate,” is all he felt able to say yesterday.
Midfielder Vurnon Anita misses tomorrow’s Premier League trip to Arsenal after Antonio Valencia’s hefty challenge in Boxing Day’s 4-3 defeat to Manchester United.
“It doesn’t look as bad (as first feared) fortunately,” Pardew said.
“It looks like heavy bruising to his ankle and he definitely won’t play at Arsenal but he might have a chance in the next couple of games.”
Anita’s injury was the last incident in a game packed with them.
Another saw Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson very publicly dress-down referee Mike Dean, linesman Jake Collin and fourth official Neil Swarbrick before Newcastle re-emerged for the second half.
The Football Association have confirmed no action will be taken against Ferguson.
“Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn’t do something about it,” Pardew reflected. “The pressure on him was tough to take for a referee.
“It’s an emotional game and apparently they had a cordial discussion.
“I’ve had a few of those myself and sometimes I’ve ended up in the stands as a result of that cordial discussion. It’s gone now and it’s irrelevant.”