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£10m escape clause for Ba

Demba Ba will be allowed leave Newcastle United for £10m this month if the club bidding for him is still in the Champions League.

With Ba gone to the Africa Cup of Nations, Hatem Ben Arfa assumed the status of hero as the Magpies beat Blackburn 2-1 at St James' Park on Saturday to book their place place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Ben Arfa's wonderful individual goal to equalise David Goodwillie's opener for Rovers -- the product of a jinking run which took him past almost half the Blackburn side -- saw him hailed as Tyneside's equivalent to Lionel Messi.

"Ben Arfa's goal was magnificent," said Jonas Gutierrez, whose winner in injury-time was also pretty special.

"It was the type of goal Lionel Messi would have been proud of, or even Maradona. It was remarkable. It reminded me of Maradona's goal against England in 1986. He just kept on going."

Ben Arfa is a special talent, but injuries and an unwillingness to adapt have held him back -- this was only his third start of the season.

Irish Independent