• Premier League

Benitez silent on Ba reports

ESPN staff
December 30, 2012

Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez refused to be drawn on questions over reports that the club are set to open talks with Newcastle United striker Demba Ba.

Reports on Sunday claimed that representatives of the Senegal international will hold talks over a January transfer, which could cost them as little as £7.5 million.

However, Benitez would neither confirm nor deny the possibility after his side beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park earlier in the day.

"We don't talk about our business in public," he said. "My job is to prepare the games. This is a player that is playing for another team so I don't want to talk about him."

Ba has a clause in the deal he signed when he moved to the north east from West Ham in 2011 which means he could be sold in January if a club meets the relatively-low required fee. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew had hoped the contract could be renegotiated to avoid being forced to sell their top scorer.

His brace in the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday took his goal total for the season up to 13, more than the rest of the Newcastle squad put together and one behind the Premier League's leading marksman Robin van Persie. That haul is just three shy of the 16 league goals he scored throughout the whole of last season, while he also netted seven goals in 12 league appearances for the Hammers in 2011 as they unsuccessfully battled relegation.

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are also reported to be interested in signing one of the Premier League's most reliable goalscorers in such a relatively cheap deal, but it would appear Chelsea have stolen a march in the race for his signature.

With Daniel Sturridge set to leave Stamford Bridge for Liverpool next month, Ba would be in direct competition for a starting place with Fernando Torres should he make the move back to London.

Roman Abramovich is thought to have made Atletico Madrid forward Radamel Falcao his number one target but, with the Colombia international insisting he will see out the season at the Vicente Calderon, the Chelsea owner has been forced to look elsewhere.

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