Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has admitted Senegalese striker Demba Ba may leave the club in the January transfer window.
Ba's agent earlier said the 27 year old striker would reconsider his Newcastle future if not given enough playing time. Those comments came after the striker, who played a pivotal role in the Magpies' successes last season, was dropped during the club's league game against Everton. He did feature as a substitute though and reminded his coach of his abilities by scoring a second half brace to rescue a 2-2 draw for his side.
"Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn't understand the management. If he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other solutions," the agent, an Alex Gontran, was quoted in a BBC report.
"There is a clause in his contract that makes us vulnerable to losing him and that situation is ongoing, but we cannot worry about that for now," ESPN quoted Pardew as saying. However, despite everything, Pardew claims he has a perfectly good relationship with Ba.
"I've told Demba I was disappointed with some of the comments around him, but I will not let the words of anyone affect what I consider to be my good relationship with the player. I just think the agent stuff was people saying things they shouldn't say, really," the 51 year old Englishman said.
The Magpies' boss, who is now in Portugal to guide the club through the first Europa League group game of the season, claimed he used "different methods" to help "players to play at their best" and believes this was why Ba was able to produce a top-class performance against Everton.
"Sometimes you've got to be honest, and I don't think he's [Ba] played particularly well. The same can be said of Papiss Cisse at times this season, so he might have to deal with missing out next time," he explained.
Ba has flirted with leaving the club for some time now and was previously linked with Liverpool.
Pardew Warns Club about Underestimating Maritimo
Meanwhile, Pardew has asked his players to guard against complacency when they face Portuguese club Maritimo. The manager stressed that even though their hosts may not be the toughest team in the competition, they should be treated with respect.
Pardew is also worried that the loss of several key players - defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor, midfielder Cheikh Tiote and, of course, both Ba (who has been dropped over this issue of a transfer) and fellow striker Papiss Cisse - will dangerously weaken his side. In addition, French midfielder Yohan Cabaye has also been left out and his international team mate, Hatem Ben Arfa, is serving a suspension.
"Maritimo will give us a test, you can be sure of that, but whatever team we put out I want a win," Pardew stressed, However, he also admitted a strong finish in the Premier League and the FA Cup were more important to him than winning the Europa League.