When Newcastle United signed Demba Ba there was a sense of deflation around Tyneside as the Toon had just sold Andy Carroll the previous January, for £35m, and Mike Ashley’s replacement was a free from West Ham United, with a dodgy injury record.
When Newcastle United signed Demba Ba there might have been a sense of deflation around St. James’ Park as the Toon Army had just sold Andy Carroll the previous January and Mike Ashley’s replacement was a free signing from West Ham United, with a dodgy injury record.
Well, technically, it was Shefki Kuqi who arrived in the aftermath of the club’s record sale but the less said about him, the better. So, on the eighth anniversary of his arrival, let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Indeed, while a deal for the Senegalese marksman might have had initially sounded somewhat underwhelming, Ba turned into one of the best free transfers in recent Magpie memory. His first goals were a hat-trick against Blackburn Rovers and then he was off racing to 16 by the end of February.
— Premier League (@premierleague) June 17, 2019
Ba proved he could score all types of goals in that first season on Tyneside as he netted free-kicks, volleys, one-on-ones, and headers. All in all, he was superb as the Toon climbed up the table and, even when they started losing games, Ba kept scoring.
Obviously, fellow Senegalese international Papiss Cisse joined from Freiburg in January, and though Ba scored on Cisse’s debut, the spotlight quickly moved from him to Cisse. That was largely because Alan Pardew changed his formation to an attacking 4-3-3 which brought the best out of Cisse, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa as the Magpies rocketed up the table to finish fifth.
The following season saw Pardew partner the two countrymen up front and the former West Ham man bagged the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, going on to score a further 12 goals for Newcastle in the Premier League, as they struggled to balance the Europa League and domestic duties.
He later joined current Toon boss Rafa Benitez at Chelsea for £7m and was one of the glowing examples of a transfer policy that worked for Newcastle. Ba, along with some of the other names mentioned in this article, saw Graham Carr earn the trust of Mike Ashley after the Joe Kinnear saga (you can read more about his rise and fall in this article by the Chronicle) and make the club a lot of money in the sales of the striker in question as well as the likes of Cabaye to PSG.
Indeed, such a policy might simply have stopped working a few years ago but with so much uncertainty surrounding the club right now and no new signings on the horizon, the anniversary of Ba’s arrival proves Newcastle United used to know what they were doing.
Right now, it’s hard to argue that it looks like they do at all.
Toon fans, what are your standout memories of Ba? Join the discussion by commenting below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!