Pardew: Future down to Ba
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has admitted Demba Ba's future lies in his own hands.
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9. Demba Ba
Speculation that the release-clause in the 27-year-old's contract will be activated during the January transfer window mounted earlier this week when comments he made in a television interview with French broadcaster Canal+ were construed as an admission that Arsenal, one of the clubs linked with a move for him, represented an attractive proposition.
Having spoken to the forward, who has 11 goals to his name already this season, Pardew is satisfied that his remarks have been misinterpreted, although there is little doubt that forces are at work behind the scenes which are beyond the Magpies' control.
The manager said: "It's unfortunate that the contract he has leaves open a lot of questions because we have this clause and every window that comes around, I have to answer the same questions.
"It would be disappointing for him to leave in this window for this club and for his team-mates here, but the decision will be his, ultimately, because that clause is there.
"The most important things we have got with Demba is he is someone who is a goalscorer and he is scoring goals, and that's very, very important to a side.
"His commitment to and work-rate for the team, I don't fault."
Ba will not be disciplined over the interview, although the club were unhappy that he has not informed them of it, and having discussed the matter with the player, Pardew is content that the tenor of it was less contentious than at first met the eye.
He said: "I have had to because it was quoted in England not correctly, and that's unfair on Demba and unfair on us.
"There will be no disciplinary procedure against him. There was one procedural matter where he could have informed us and should have, really, but that's neither here nor there.
"The most important thing for me is that the content of that conversation was about trying to turn the situation around, like all of us.
"We are professional people, we want to win. That's what we are paid for and I have got no problem with anything he said in that interview."
Nevertheless, the Magpies are preparing a contingency plan should the £7.5million clause be triggered and strikers are among Pardew's January targets.
He dismissed suggestions that Ajax's Jody Lukoki might be among them, but confirmed that Marseille frontman Loic Remy could well be.
He said: "That's a situation we are looking at."
Ironically, Harry Redknapp, the man who first made Ba's release-clause common knowledge during his time at Tottenham, will be at St James' Park on Saturday with his QPR team as Newcastle attempt to improve upon a run of six defeats in seven Barclays Premier League games.
Performances have improved significantly in recent weeks, but asked if that meant it was not all doom and gloom, Pardew replied: "No, it's doom and gloom, we are happy with that, that's where we are.
"We haven't won enough games, we have got to start winning and we have got to start showing that we want to win."
Meanwhile, the draw for the last 32 of the Europa League today paired Newcastle with Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv with either Anzhi Makhachkala or Hannover awaiting the winners.
Asked what he knew about Metalist, Pardew said: "Not much, really. I do know it's a long journey, I've looked at that, and they won the group, so it's a tough agenda for us.
"But obviously, that's some way ahead and we are looking forward to it.
"It's a tough draw in terms of the travel; the opposition, I know very little about. I can't even comment on that until such time as we do some studying."