Newcastle are bracing themselves for a torrid January as they try to resist the Premier League’s big guns and hold onto midfielder Cheik Tiote.
The Ivorian international made an impressive start to his career in England and Newcastle anticipated he would become a star, so they managed to lock him into a six-year contract last season.
As a result the Toon club are now in a strong position as they can demand a hefty fee from any of the clubs that court the 25-year-old.
Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, told reporters: “He’s [Tiote] a big target because he’s a great player, and great players are going to be targets. We are always on our guard with Cheik because we realise that to us, he is very, very important and it would be very, very difficult to get him out of here.
“You never know with the window. It’s such a minefield of possibilities.
We have one or two players here that top clubs, I’m sure, will be interested in, but the one thing I would say on that is that they are going to have to pay a lot of money to take anybody out of here because we are obviously in a good position, not just on the playing side, but financially as well.”
Encouragingly for Geordies, Tiote has stated in the past: “I am flattered but there is nothing official. When teams such as Chelsea, City, Liverpool and United are interested in you it makes you think twice, but I love Newcastle.”
But the clubs linked with Tiote are not short of a bob or two and if they felt he was what they needed, the necessary funds would be made available to make Newcastle’s decision much harder.
They include, among others, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea who are all looking to strengthen in the defensive midfield area.
This is especially true of United, having lost Darren Fletcher for the foreseeable future, they are only left with Park, Anderson and Michael Carrick to play in that role.
Newcastle are running an interesting transfer policy in which they buy cheap and sell on if possible, given that they signed Tiote for only £3.5m from FC Twente then if either United or Chelsea make an offer of around £25m, owner Mike Ashley may well take the money to reinvest in other bargains.
One of these such finds could be Kenyan Victor Wanyama of Celtic, who would be seen as a straight swap for Tiote should he leave for pastures new. However Newcastle could face competition from Sunderland and Aston Villa for his signature.