- Premier League
Ba must toe Newcastle line if he stays
Manager Alan Pardew has told Demba Ba that even if he stays with Newcastle until the end of the season he will be sold in the summer if the release-clause remains in his contract.
When the January transfer window opens on Tuesday next week, the £7.5million release clause in the 27-year-old striker's contract becomes active once again.
That has already sparked a flurry of speculation, just as it did during the summer, that he will leave the St James' Park outfit, for whom he has scored 27 goals since his arrival in June 2011.
The clause was not triggered during the close season and, having failed in their attempts to negotiate it out of his deal since, the Magpies are not prepared to deal with the uncertainty once again should he stay.
"Really and truly this window is the key, I think, because if Demba goes in this window, it will cause us a problem," the 51-year-old manager said.
"I think he will stay, but there's a possibility he could go because of the clause that's still in force. I won't let it run until the summer. I'll do something about it. We will either move Demba on or we will secure him in the summer."
Ba, who has scored 11 goals so far this season to go with the 16 he scored during the last campaign, has been linked with Arsenal, QPR and Paris St Germain among others in the run-up to the transfer window.
However, there is little doubt that other parties are interested in brokering a move and Newcastle know matters will be taken out of their hands if the relevant bid is made as a result of the complicated deal they negotiated when they signed a man who had failed a medical at Stoke several months earlier.
Asked if Ba had given him the impression he wanted to stay, Pardew said: "Always. Some of the speculation that runs around him - yesterday he was asked about his home-town club, PSG, would he like to play for them one day, and he said 'yes, of course'. That's now a headline that he's going to play for them next week. The media kind of fuel it and I understand that, that's part of their business.
"But for our part, he has always put out for us, he has scored more goals than anyone else for us, he is playing well and that's what I have to focus on."
Meanwhile, Pardew confirmed that the ankle injury suffered by midfielder Vurnon Anita at Manchester United on Wednesday is only bruising and although he will miss Saturday's trip to Arsenal, he is not facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.