Ba set to face Everton as transfer talks roll on
Demba Ba is set to play for Newcastle United against Everton tonight while negotiations are still going on between his agents and Chelsea over a £7m transfer.
Alan Pardew has said Ba will play unless a deal is struck between the striker and Chelsea prior to kick-off, which seems unlikely, given the stand-off over the size of the fee being claimed by Ba's agents and the player's wage demands.
That will give Newcastle fans the chance to make clear to Ba how they feel about him leaving the club. Pardew has called on Ba to declare his loyalty to those fans.
Everton manager David Moyes said he expected Ba to play but warned that the transfer saga could have a detrimental effect on Newcastle.
Moyes, whose own team were destabilised by Joleon Lescott's protracted move to Manchester City in 2009, said: "I don't know if (the Ba situation) will help us. I think Alan will play him if he is available. It would not be a great thing to have around the club. We had it when Lescott was leaving. It did not work in our favour. Until they get the offer, he is going to be playing for Newcastle."
Moyes said there could be tension between Ba and his team-mates. "I think it can happen. When it starts to go wrong you start looking around. Alan keeps picking him. He's an important player to him. He is getting the goals and is a threat."
Despite facing a team who enjoyed a superb 2012, Pardew was in optimistic mood and cited his club's own performance throughout most of last year.
"Everton could be a platform for us, a difficult platform but no more difficult than Man United last year, when we won," he said. "I certainly feel that we can beat them. It's not like I am in a position where I think the team has massively malfunctioned. I think, other than the last 20 minutes, we gave a good account of ourselves at Arsenal (where they eventually lost 7-3)."
"Take November and December out of the year and it was really a great year for the football club," Pardew continued. "Unfortunately you can't, so next year we have got to put 12 good months together.
"I do feel it has been a decent year. I look at this group of players and know that if they were all fit, we would be in such a great position. I have been in situations like this before and suddenly you look at the team and you think, 'Wow, that is our best team playing out there and we are losing games,' then you really do have a problem, but we have not got to that. It would be nice to get our best team and lose, then I really would be moaning!
"There is some real light at the end of the tunnel. Ironically, after that heavy defeat, we've had some good news in terms of players coming back and some positive news in terms of negotiations and hopefully that will all come to fruition."
Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye are expected to be back for the upcoming game against Norwich and Mike Williamson is available for tonight's with Everton.
"The most important thing is to be realistic," Pardew added. "We played Arsenal, then United away from home and got no points. I don't think that is too surprising. The last 20 minutes at Arsenal was really not us. Our stats and everything I have seen suggests to me that we were tired, not just physically but mentally. We paid the ultimate penalty for that. We have to be on guard because games are coming fast. It is another top team." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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