Chelsea trigger Demba Ba clause
Demba Ba's Newcastle exit moved a step closer on Wednesday when Chelsea finally triggered the release clause in his contract.
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The Blues have been given permission to talk to the 27-year-old Senegal international after meeting the £7million figure stipulated in the deal he signed with the Magpies during the summer of 2011.
Ba was withdrawn from the Newcastle squad for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash with Everton at St James' Park as a result.
A club statement said: "Newcastle United can confirm that Chelsea Football Club has made an official offer for Demba Ba which has triggered the release clause in the player's contract.
"The club has given the player permission to speak to Chelsea FC and therefore he will not be included in the squad against Everton."
The move comes as little surprise after the Londoners held talks with the player's representatives at the weekend and came just hours before they confirmed the departure of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool.
Those discussions were later described as "unproductive", but there was a feeling that it would not be the end of the matter.
Newcastle have tried unsuccessfully to renegotiate Ba's contract in recent months to prevent a repeat of the speculation which surrounded him during the summer.
However, with the former Hoffenheim and West Ham forward's representatives actively trying to move him on - Magpies boss Alan Pardew hit out earlier this week at the network of people purporting to be looking after the player - their hopes of securing him on a firmer footing always looked doomed.
Ba has been a major hit on Tyneside - he scored 16 goals last season and took his tally for the current campaign to 13 with a double in the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday - and Pardew was desperate to keep him.
However, Newcastle were not prepared to shatter their wage structure to accommodate his demands.
The initial three-year contract was complicated with Newcastle looking to protect themselves after Ba had earlier failed a medical at Stoke because of a chronic knee condition, while the player kept his options open.
He has now opted to consider the alternatives, although it remains to be seen if Chelsea are prepared to give him what he wants, with any deal sure to cost them way in excess of £7million even before his salary is taken into account.
The Magpies will receive only a proportion of the transfer fee should the transfer go through, but have actively been pursuing a replacement, with Marseille's Loic Remy understood to be at the top of their list.
In the short term, Ba's compatriot Papiss Cisse is likely to return to the central role in which he prospered during the second half of last season as Pardew's men attempt to improve upon a run of just two victories in their last 11 league games.
Meanwhile, the Magpies appear to have won their battle with the Nigeria Football Federation, for the time being at least, after Shola Ameobi was left out of the final squad for the African Nations Cup.
Pardew has insisted for several weeks that the 31-year-old striker would not be joining up with his country despite warnings from coach Stephen Keshi that he would demand FIFA took action if he did not.
Nigeria's media officer Ben Alaiya told BBC Sport: "Shola's refusal to answer calls gave Keshi no other option than to allow him to concentrate on his club.
"The coach and team secretary made several attempts to reach Shola but there was no answer. The coach waited to hear back from him but a call never came.
"A decision on the next move will be made at the appropriate time."