A report on Goal.com suggests Newcastle United could lose one half of their awesome Senegalese strike force in the summer, following speculation Demba Ba may look to leave the club after being overshadowed by compatriot and team mate Papiss Cisse.
Ba signed for the Magpies on a free transfer, in the summer of 2011, after a promising season with West Ham United in which he scored seven goals in 12 appearances. The 26 year old got his Tyneside career off to a stunning start, with a hat-trick in a September league game against Blackburn. He followed that with a second hat-trick in Newcastle's 3-1 win away to Stoke and by the time he left for the 2012 African Nations Cup, he had amassed 15 goals in the league, second only to Arsenal's Robin van Persie.
However, while at the tournament, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew moved to sign Ba's national team mate Cisse for a reported fee of £10mn from German club Freiburg, according to a report in the Guardian. Unfortunately, once the pair returned from national team duty, Ba's star waned while his Cisse's grew in stature and he set the scoring charts alight, just as Ba did in the first half of the season.
Cisse finished the 2011/12 Premier League season 13 goals in 14 games, compared to Ba's total of 16 in 34; Ba has not scored in any of the 13 games he has started along with Cisse and it is believed that one reason why he has lost his goal-scoring touch and wants to move on is because of being shifted out to the wing to accommodate Cisse in the middle.
The problem for Newcastle now is that Ba has a £7mn release clause in his contract and could invoke that part of the agreement if he chooses to leave the club. Furthermore, following Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp bringing up the subject of the bargain value of the amount, it is now also understood the player could collect up to half of that amount, should any club come in for him.
There are a number of clubs reportedly interested in Ba - these include Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham - and given his performances and the low value of the release clause this list is likely to grow.
Meanwhile, in other Newcastle related transfer news, Cisse has reportedly threatened legal action against rumours suggesting he wants Spanish champions Real Madrid to make a transfer bid for him. The report in the Daily Mail, however, quotes a source as saying Cisse was "committed to Newcastle".
Finally, the Magpies' right-back Danny Simpson is also apparently set to move on after rejecting the club's final offer of a new contract. The former Manchester United trainee has only one year left on his existing contract and has made 40 appearances for the club this season. A report in the Telegraph suggested the £25,000 per week offer would have more than doubled Simpson's present salary and added that striker Leon Best and midfielder Danny Guthrie were likely to join Simpson in leaving the club; the latter two are reportedly readying to join Aston Villa.