LEON Best is the latest first-team star put up for sale by Newcastle United, who will take £4m for the Republic of Ireland striker.
A deal for West Ham United striker Demba Ba is close to completion, but captain Kevin Nolan’s controversial move in the opposite direction is not expected to be the last high-profile departure of the summer.
Best was a revelation in the second half of the season, but Newcastle have decided to cash in on him as they push forward with plans for a radical overhaul of their squad.
The signing of Demba Ba could be announced today, and the Magpies are also negotiating with Paris-Saint Germain over Turkey forward Mevlüt Erdinç.
But The Journal has been told that even if Ba and Erdinç join, Newcastle want another forward to add to their attacking arsenal. That man is definitely not £15m-rated Ajax striker Miralem Sulejmani though, who is out of United’s price range.
All of that spells bad news for the current line-up of forwards, with Best the highest-profile victim.
The former Nottingham Forest forward has already battled back from the brink as a United player and is unlikely to give up easily on his Newcastle career.
The 24-year-old was being offered to clubs on loan back in January before a scoring spree that saw him notch six goals in nine starts to belatedly announce his arrival at St James’ Park.
Best is not alone in finding himself apparently surplus to requirements.
Nile Ranger has been told to find a new club while club captain Alan Smith has been informed he has no Newcastle future.
Joey Barton is available and Nolan, incredibly, has been sold after his 12-goal contribution to keeping the Magpies in the top flight. He put pen to paper on a five-year deal at Upton Park yesterday, claiming Sam Allardyce’s desire to sign him was the deciding factor in his move.
“I’m very sad to leave Newcastle but I’m coming to another massive club in my eyes, and hopefully I can be as successful as I was there,” he said.
“The be-all and end-all was that this club wanted me and the owners put faith in me and have given me a security of contract. Now it’s my time to repay them and hopefully I will do that.”
Meanwhile, Barton said he will consider leaving Newcastle if a Champions League club come in for him.
Against United’s wishes the midfielder is maintaining a high profile this summer, having opened a Twitter feed that made national headlines in the wake of Nolan’s departure on Wednesday. Yesterday morning he was at it again, giving a live interview on radio station Talksport in which he reaffirmed his desire to stay at St James’ Park – unless a top-four club could offer him European football.
“I love being at the club and I’ve got no ambition to leave,” he said.
“If someone came in, for instance, hypothetically and offered me Champions League football, then whether I had signed a five, six, seven-year deal at Newcastle, I’d have to consider it. But that’s not the case at the minute and, as far as I’m concerned, unless someone comes in and can offer me the opportunity to play at the next level, which is obviously the Champions League, then for me it’s a no-brainer.
“I won’t be leaving the football club and I’m looking forward to going back pre-season.”
Left-back target Neil Taylor was on Tyneside yesterday to tie up the loose ends ahead of his £1m switch to St James’ Park.
If things go to plan, the Swansea defender could also be confirmed as a United player today.