sport

Blues trigger Ba release clause

Demba Ba's Newcastle exit has moved a step closer after Chelsea finally triggered the release clause in his contract.

The Blues have been given permission to talk to the 27-year-old Senegal international after meeting the 7million figure stipulated in the deal he signed with the Magpies during the summer of 2011.

Ba was withdrawn from the Newcastle squad for Wednesday's Premier League clash with Everton at St James' Park as a result.

A club statement said: "Newcastle United can confirm that Chelsea Football Club has made an official offer for Demba Ba which has triggered the release clause in the player's contract.

"The club has given the player permission to speak to Chelsea FC and therefore he will not be included in the squad for tonight's game against Everton."

The move comes as little surprise after the Londoners held talks with the player's representatives at the weekend.

Those discussions were later described as "unproductive", but there was a feeling that it would not be the end of the matter.

Newcastle have tried unsuccessfully to renegotiate Ba's contract in recent months to prevent a repeat of the speculation which surrounded him during the summer.

However, with the former Hoffenheim and West Ham forward's representatives actively trying to move him on - Magpies boss Alan Pardew hit out earlier this week at the network of people purporting to be looking after the player - their hopes of securing him on a firmer footing always looked doomed.

Ba has been a major hit on Tyneside - he scored 16 goals last season and took his tally for the current campaign to 13 with a double in the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday - and Pardew was desperate to keep him.

However, Newcastle were not prepared to shatter their wage structure to accommodate his demands.

The initial three-year contract was complicated with Newcastle looking to protect themselves after Ba had earlier failed a medical at Stoke because of a chronic knee condition, while the player kept his options open.

He has now opted to consider the alternatives, although it remains to be seen if Chelsea are prepared to give him what he wants, with any deal sure to cost them way in excess of 7million even before his salary is taken into account.

The Magpies will receive only a proportion of the transfer fee should the transfer go through, but have actively been pursuing a replacement, with Marseille's Loic Remy understood to be at the top of their list.

In the short term, Ba's compatriot Papiss Cisse is likely to return to the central role in which he prospered during the second half of last season as Pardew's men attempt to improve upon a run of just two victories in their last 11 league games.