Demba Ba will have a medical at Chelsea this morning after thrashing out personal terms ahead of a £7m move from Newcastle United.
Ba was given permission to talk to Chelsea yesterday morning after Newcastle received the offer that activated the release clause in his contract and manager Alan Pardew said he was leaving with his best wishes.
The striker is believed to have agreed a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge worth around £70,000 a week – an increase of £20,000 on his weekly salary at Newcastle – and could make his debut in the FA Cup third-round tie against Southampton at the weekend.
"It's done, he will go to Chelsea with our blessing," Pardew said, even though the loss of his leading goalscorer leaves a big void to fill. "He has done fantastically for us, it's a big club, good luck to him.
"For us, it's not a bad thing because all the uncertainty of whether he was going to stay is now done. We can move on, we're a massive club here. This club is bigger than any player for sure. In some respects, I'm pleased."
There is a still chance that Ba could fail his medical, which would be awkward for all concerned. Stoke City pulled out of a £5.5m deal to sign the Senegal international from Hoffenheim two years ago as they were concerned about the damage done by an old knee injury.
Ba, though, has not missed a single game for Newcastle because of a knee problem and Chelsea may well decide to go through with the transfer even if they cannot insure him against future injuries.
"We prepared with Demba in the side," Pardew continued. "I was assuming that he would play. I was in the dark as I have been on most of this particular deal because obviously the ball was in Demba's court."
The loss of Ba is a major blow, but not an unexpected one given that his representatives leaked the existence of the release clause a year ago and have spent the last 12 months trying to get him a move.
The 27-year-old has scored 13 of Newcastle's 26 goals in the Premier League this season and has scored a total of 29 times in just 57 appearances since signing on a free transfer from West Ham in the summer of 2011.
Pardew, the club's chief scout Graham Carr and managing director Derek Llambias will discuss potential targets today, although there is no sense of panic.
There is even a chance that they will wait until the summer to bring in another striker if they feel that clubs are asking for too much money in this window. Newcastle have spent 18 months looking at the Marseille forward Loic Remy, although they have not agreed a fee with the French club and senior sources at St James' Park are wary of being dragged into a bidding war for the France international.
"Loic Remy is one of the names on our list, but it is a long list," a source said. "There are other clubs who are interested, so it is not straightforward." (© Daily Telegraph, London)