Cheick Tiote
Cheick Tiote has been a commanding presence in the Newcastle midfield.

Newcastle United's excellent form and finish in the Premier League last season has highlighted the potential and talent of several of their first team stars, most notable of whom are Senegalese striking pair of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse - linked to Real Madrid. The two forwards netted a hugely impressive 29 goals, combined, for the Magpies last season despite it being their debut year in England. Since then, and given the revelation of a £7mn release clause in Demba Ba's contract, a number of top clubs both in England and on the continent have been linked with the players.

But Ba and Cisse weren't the only stars of last season. At least three members of Alan Pardew's midfield - Frenchmen Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa and Ivory Coast international Cheick Tiote - have been linked with moves away from the Sports Direct Arena. Incidentally, all three players have been linked to one or both of Manchester United and Chelsea. In fact, a report by the Independent, in March , suggested Roman Abramovich was ready to bid a total of £30mn for both Tiote and Dutch goal keeper Tim Krul.

The 26 year old Ivorian has established himself as one of the Premier League's finest all-action, hard-tackling midfielders but fortunately for Pardew and Newcastle fans has dismissed all talk of a move away from Tyneside. The Daily Mail reports there is interest in the player from Premier League champions Manchester City, their rivals Manchester United and Spurs as well.

"I am still a Newcastle player. I am very happy here. All I am looking at is that the season ahead of us will be a really good one, just like last season. Last season we finished fifth and doing that again will be difficult," Tiote explained. The international also added he was delighted to play in the Europa League and was looking forward to the experience.

Ben Arfa to Turn Blue?

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports the Blues are on the trail of Ben Arfa and have set aside £18mn for the Frenchman. Roberto Di Matteo has already added Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard and German midfielder Marko Marin to his Champions League-winning squad this summer and have also been linked to the Brazilian pair of Hulk and Oscar. Ben Arfa moved to Newcastle £5mn when he transferred from Ligue 1 club Marseilles and has three years left on his contract. It is believed Newcastle will ask for something in the region of £30mn for the player.