NEWCASTLE United have rubbished claims that Demba Ba is on the brink of leaving – and insisted they have not had one enquiry about a blue chip player this summer.
The Journal can reveal that United are yet to field even a tentative enquiry about one of their so-called ‘crown jewels’, much less a formal offer for one of the key players who helped them into fifth place in the Premier League.
That includes top scorer Ba, who was heavily linked with a move to Galatasaray yesterday. That drew an angry denial from United and Ba’s brother Hamady that a transfer had been completed – but suspicions remain at St James’ Park that those close to the striker are trying to find him a new club.
The Journal understands Ba has been offered to the Turkish side by an intermediary, although with so much confusion surrounding who actually represents the striker it is unclear whether the player himself has sanctioned that move.
Newcastle were attempting to get to the bottom of it yesterday, but the latest developments have not surprised the club, who are more than aware that his advisers stand to make millions if a transfer is successfully negotiated.
And it is worth pointing at that at this stage Newcastle have had no interest – formal or informal – in any of their players.
That includes Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa, who was linked with an unlikely move to Chelsea in yesterday morning’s newspapers. Newcastle do not want to sell Ben Arfa and were treating talk of Roman Abramovich taking a personal interest in his
future with a pinch of salt. It is widely assumed in football circles that United will sell at the right price, but club insiders have contradicted that assumption – insisting they are looking to build on the squad that sent them into fifth place rather than dismantle it.
Indeed a senior St James’ Park source has told The Journal that the club are not actively encouraging the sale of any of their players this summer, claiming it is a “bad time” for United to sell.
Newcastle have been careful to draw back from offering reassurances in public about the future of key men like Tiote and Ba, with Alan Pardew on record as stating that a big enough bid might tempt the club to do business.
But the reality is that their financial strength means they do not need to sell to fund the “three or four” senior squad additions that Pardew is looking to make – and it would take eye-watering bids to encourage them to sell a player like Ben Arfa.
Newcastle’s hand has also been bolstered by the fact that none of their players are agitating for a move away from Tyneside. Tiote has publicly and privately stated his intention to stay while Fabricio Coloccini has also gone on record with his intention to remain in the North East – despite reports claiming Manchester City are interested.
He told The Journal: “There is always speculation in the summer but it will be nice for it not to be about me this time.
“It happens when the transfer window is open. Sometimes because there is no football to talk about, people just want to talk about transfers when there is nothing there. It is football, it happens but I have always said I’m happy at Newcastle United.”
Perhaps their one concern is the future of Ba, who was linked with a lucrative move to Turkey yesterday.
United are fully aware that their are people acting on his behalf who are trying to secure him a transfer away from St James’ Park but they are understood to be relaxed about the situation.
Ba is primarily represented by his brother and Newcastle believe they have a good enough relationship with the Senegal striker to be kept abreast of any developments – regardless of a raft of reports claiming interest from around the globe. For his part Ba has never expressed a desire to leave.
United expect the serious transfer business to kick into gear towards the end of the European Championships, which is keeping the market very quiet.
Most of the key men at Newcastle are recharging their batteries after a long season, with managing director Derek Llambias and football secretary Lee Charnley both out of the country. That points to the fact that further business is unlikely until the start of July.