Cheick Tiote was given a farewell by Newcastle United fans at St James’s Park – but the saga over the midfielder’s future could yet drag on.
Tiote played what could be his last game for the club at the stadium on Wednesday night.
We have some enquiries from different teams. We have to wait now to see if someone comes with a proper offer.Rafa Benitez
And the midfielder – who saw a proposed big-money move to China break down a year ago – was warmly applauded by supporters when he was substituted late in the third-round FA Cup replay, which United won 3-1.
Tiote, out of contract in the summer, is wanted by Sporting Gijon.
But the Spanish side, up to now, have been unable to match Tiote’s wage demands, and the 30-year-old could opt to wait on more lucrative offers from the Middle East and Far East.
The situation is complicated by the fact that United want a fee Tiote, who has been on the fringes at Newcastle for the past couple of years.
Tiote is the only player United manager Benitez envisages leaving St James’s Park in this month’s transfer window.
“Tiote is doing well,” said Benitez, whose side take on Rotherham United at St James’s Park tomorrow looking to cement their position at the top of the Championship.
“We have some enquiries from different teams. We have to wait now to see if someone comes with a proper offer.”
Tiote has made 156 appearances, and scored one goal, for Newcastle since joining from Dutch club FC Twente in the summer of 2010.
The Ivory Coast international has made two starts and one substitute’s appearance so far this season.