Alan Pardew last night insisted any club wishing to buy Papiss Cisse next month would have spend big to prise the out-of-favour striker from Newcastle United.
The manager hinted that he expected at least interest in, if not a bid for, the Senegalese international, whose career on Tyneside has ground to a halt.
Cisse has failed to score in the Premier League all season, and a player once spoken about in terms of being worth £20m has been hardly used in recent weeks.
And when Pardew has turned to him, it has been as a late substitute to run down the clock.
However, any manager hoping to get a bargain for a once proven goalscorer, who at 28 should be at the peak of his powers, is going to be disappointed.
Asked about teams coming in for Cisse next month, Pardew said: “I am sure come January, a lot of teams will be looking at our situation. They would have to spend a lot of money.
“I would suggest to any club to just look at Mike Ashley’s record of selling players. Would he cost a lot? (That’s) correct.”
Pardew revealed that Cisse has been working hard throughout the week in a bid to regain his place in the side. Although it would take more than hard graft for the former Freiburg man to push past those players in front of him.
Pardew said: “He is training well, looks sharp and looks ready. I genuinely think before we get to the FA Cup game (against Cardiff City on January 4), he will have played and he is going to have to take his chance now because Shola Ameobi has done well.
“Loic Remy is playing well and Hatem Ben Arfa looked terrific when he came on at Manchester United.
“So he is in the pool now and if he wants to be a regular which Remy is now – and you could not argue with that – he needs to take his chance when he gets it.
“I am sure he is not ecstatic because footballers want to play. I have no problem with that.
“He certainly has not sulked about it. He is trying to do his job. It is not easy. He is not used to it.
“He has previously been a regular for us and has been a regular throughout his career.”
Pardew is in a good place right now. A run of five league wins in six games, the last of them ending a 41-year wait for a win at Manchester United, is one of the best periods of his entire managerial career.
He was the Premier League’s manager of the month for November and his team are arguably playing better than the season that saw them challenge for a Champions League place and finish fifth.
Pardew added: “I have tried to be consistent with my message to the players, and sometimes it is difficult to do that when you have had a tough day.
“We have had a lot tougher days than Swansea here and you have to endure those, but it always makes up for it when you get fantastic results.
“If someone had said to me, ‘You will be Newcastle manager and you will beat Manchester United 3-0 at home and you will win at Old Trafford 1-0 and deserve to win’, I would have taken that and lost all the others, probably.
“Joking aside, it is something you have to get used to because it is a big city and it is a city which lives and breathes the game, so therefore it is all around you and you have to get used to that.”