NEWCASTLE United are growing increasingly confident of keeping Demba Ba on Tyneside - and want him to form part of a new look strike force with Luuk de Jong next season.
United have tabled an offer of around £8million for de Jong – a bid that falls far short of FC Twente’s valuation of the forward. The Journal understands they have told interested parties they want £15million for the Holland striker, and hope to spark a bidding war.
A senior United source claimed the club are ready for hard negotiations with the Dutch side and will bid again, but that doesn’t mean the end for Ba in a Newcastle shirt.
United want to keep the Senegal striker and sounded a bullish note on Tuesday, with senior sources claiming the striker is going nowhere.
The club’s optimism is probably based on the surfeit of clubs that have been prepared to follow up initial interest in Ba, who has been offered to top clubs across the Continent by representatives working on his behalf.
Tottenham had a firm interest that ended with the departure of Harry Redknapp while Galatasaray publicly distanced themselves with a move for the forward over the weekend. There are options in the Middle East for the striker but he is understood to want to stay in a major league – and has told those close to him that he wants the uncertainty resolved by the time he returns for pre-season training.
United know that they can take nothing for granted and remain concerned about the possibility of losing him. But have been strong hints from figures at a high level at St James’ Park that he may yet be persuaded to stay.
If he does, there is the possibility of United having three international forwards to pick from next season after they formalised a long-standing interest in Twente’s de Jong.
He is understood to be in favour of a move to Tyneside but sources close to the deal said there was still a long way to go before Newcastle clinched the transfer.
There is the small matter of Twente’s valuation of around £15million – and it should be noted that it was leaked in Holland in a potential bid to drive more interest in the player. The Eredivisie side are managed by Steve McClaren and the former Middlesbrough boss has been told he needs to sell to generate funds for his own recruitment drive. With Newcastle out of the picture for Douglas, they know de Jong represents their most saleable asset.
With two Bundesliga teams and Benfica interested in him, United’s bid was never likely to be successful. Newcastle have shown previously that they are not afraid to walk away from a deal if they think it is over-priced – and have other targets if their Dutch raid unravels. Yesterday morning also brought further confirmation of an initial offer for Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy.
The bid – tabled low at £4million – is a historic one and Newcastle have yet to follow it up with an increased offer, a fact that brought ridicule from Lille boss Rudi Garcia.
The French side say they want double United’s offer but Newcastle are attempting to broker a deal for around £6million and hope to use the player’s desire to come to St James’ Park as a bargaining tool. In case the move falls through they have sounded out alternatives, having made enquiries about Nathaniel Clyne of Crystal Palace.
“He is torn between staying with us and playing in the Champions League in our new stadium or going elsewhere,” Garcia revealed on Tuesday.
“If he does go and it is a sporting progression, then we will be happy to see him evolve – but we have not planned to replace him.
“But I do believe that Newcastle have faxed an offer of £4million – but they must have the wrong player.”