With things going so well at Newcastle United, seeing as the Magpies are sitting in 6th place in the Premier League table and have already signed a new number nine in the form of Papiss Cisse, I seem like something of a party pooper to put a downer on things. However, as fellow Newcastle fans you will know that being a member of the Toon Army is a rollercoaster ride at the best of times and under the leadership of Mike Ashley Newcastle United have a history of selling their most coveted assets. So, which of Newcastle’s players that are getting attention from other clubs can the Magpies least afford to sell?
Not including Fraser Forster who seems to have all but joined Celtic on a permanent deal, there have been four players who have been linked with an exit from Newcastle United in the January transfer window. Those are star striker and top scorer Demba Ba, midfield dynamo Cheik Tiote, goalkeeping talent Tim Krul and the solid Danny Simpson. While I’d like Newcastle to keep all four, some are more important to the team than others.
Before Papiss Cisse signed this week, you’d have said Demba Ba was indispensable to Newcastle, and arguably he still is. Without the Senegal striker’s goals Newcastle would firmly be in mid table, or even worse, and having found the back of the net 15 times this season, the Premier League’s top teams are casting admiring glances. Without knowing the whole minimum fee release clause situation with his contract, Newcastle simply cannot afford to sell Ba like they did with Andy Carroll this time last year and prevent us from seeing the double Demba partnership.
From front to back, Tim Krul has been one of the star performers for Newcastle this season. Particularly at the start of the campaign, the young Dutchman was in tremendous form and contributed greatly to Newcastle’s excellent defensive record. Tottenham are reported to be taking a close look at the 23-year-old, who at his age can only get better and become not only one of the best goalkeepers in England, but one of the best ‘keepers in the world. Even if a £15 million bid was lodged, I wouldn’t sell.
Then there’s Cheik Tiote. The Ivorian hasn’t been on top form this season, but against Manchester United he showed just why he’s so important to Newcastle’s fortunes. Alongside Yohan Cabaye they form one of the best central midfield pairings in the Premier League and his terrier-like approach in the middle of the park is extremely hard to play against. However, if a reported £25m bid did come in from Man United or Chelsea, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ashley was tempted to sell.
Finally there’s Danny Simpson. Not the most glamorous of players, but certainly effective. However, whichever way you look at it, Simpson is not invaluable to the Newcastle first team. That isn’t saying that his presence wouldn’t be missed, but Pardew already seems to be talking up James Tavernier as a long-term replacement. With Simmo yet to sign a new contract and Saturday’s opponents Fulham showing an interest, Ashley might well decide to cash in on Simpson while his stock is high if a reasonable bid is made.
Between Ba, Tiote and Krul it’s hard to call which one Newcastle can ill-afford to lose and in an ideal world you keep all three. For what it’s worth I’d have to go for Demba Ba as it is goals that win you games and the strawberry syrup lover has scored plenty of them. Let’s just hope that Newcastle can follow up their shrewd signings with some fortitude and reject a bid if one comes in for any of the trio, even if it is on the large side.