NEWCASTLE United midfielder Cheik Tiote is not available at a knock-down price.
Reports from Russia have suggested Lokomotiv Moscow have opened talks with the Magpies in an effort to prise the 28-year-old Ivory Coast international out of manager Alan Pardew’s grasp.
However, it is understood Lokomotiv tabled an offer for Tiote several weeks ago which was dismissed as “derisory” and have not returned since.
It is understood the Russian club’s bid amounted to fractionally more than Newcastle paid Dutch outfit FC Twente for the midfield enforcer’s services during the summer of 2010.
Tiote arrived in England as a virtual unknown during Chris Hughton’s reign as manager, but was linked with a series of Barclays Premier League rivals after forming a hugely productive central midfield partnership with Yohan Cabaye as Pardew’s side finished fifth in 2011-12.
His form has been less consistent during the intervening campaigns, although, at his best, Tiote is a driving force at the heart of the team.
The Ivorian, who started all three of his country’s group games at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, missed Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by champions Manchester City in the season opener with a hamstring problem.
However, rumours of his impending departure have been rife in recent months and there is little doubt that he has been unsettled by speculation linking him with, at different times, cash-rich Russian clubs and, at home, Arsenal.
Pardew has no desire to see one of his key men leave St James’s Park, despite an extensive summer recruitment drive, and is hoping the return of he and new arrival Siem de Jong from injury will strengthen his hand for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
While the manager does not have the final say over transfers, there is little prospect of owner Mike Ashley sanctioning a sale for anything less than a substantial profit, as he has done with both Cabaye and compatriot Mathieu Debuchy this year.