In-demand midfielder gives Newcastle a big pre-window boost

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As Alan Pardew predicted, Newcastle’s magnificent start to a season which kicked off with several big names leaving and many making them their outside tip for relegation has led to interest in a number of their star players.

The most popular of the lot is Cheick Tiote, with rumours over the last few weeks suggesting that Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool are all keen on the defensive midfielder who was signed for around £3.5 million from Twente in 2010.

And Pardew, while putting an upbeat spin on things by noting that it would take a large sum to tempt the Magpies into letting Tiote go, pretty much admitted that if the offer was right, they wouldn’t stand in the Ivorian’s way.

The 25-year-old has commented on his future for the first time though to reassure nervous fans that he hasn’t set his sights on a transfer away from the club in January.

He told the Evening Chronicle: “People can say whatever they want to say about me, but I’m a professional footballer and I play for Newcastle. I’m not thinking of leaving in January – I’m very happy playing for this club.

“That’s my job and I need to work hard for the team and the club. I have to focus on my job for Newcastle – that’s what I have to do.”

And with Demba Ba’s long-term injury worries – which haven’t flared up once yet – likely to put off bidders despite a stunning record of 21 goals in 25 Premier League starts in 2011, it might not be too tough a winter for the Magpies after all.

The main problem will be coping without the pair when they head off to the African Nations Cup next month, especially as Pardew has played down the prospect of buying a striker now that a move for Modibo Maiga has collapsed.

It is 80/1 that his side finish in the top four, with a four-point gap separating them from Chelsea, while they are 11/2 to win at Liverpool on Friday night.

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