ALAN Pardew today called on Newcastle United’s fans to play their part in keeping Demba Ba at the club.
The 16-goal striker has been a revelation in his first season at St James’s Park.
And Ba’s form hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere, with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United understood to be among the clubs monitoring his situation.
The 26-year-old – who faces West Bromwich Albion tomorrow looking to end a run of five games without a goal, the longest he’s gone without finding the net at United – has a reported £7m release clause written into his contract.
However, Pardew doesn’t believe Ba – who could double his wages if he moved in the summer – is motivated by money.
And he’s hopeful Newcastle supporters can persuade the Senegal international – who joined on a free transfer from West Ham United last summer – his future lies on Tyneside between now and the end of the season.
The club is also likely to offer him a new long-term deal in recognition of his contribution on the field.
“Demba’s an emotional person – it isn’t all about money,” Pardew told the Gazette. “It might be nice for the fans to make him want to stay – I think he’ll respond to that.
“He took a chance on us, and we took a chance on him. It would be nice in the final few home games to have a tidal wave of emotion to make him to stay. It would hurt him to leave, and we want him to stay.”
Ba this week told the Gazette of his affection for the city, and the feeling is clearly mutal. The batch of Ba’s favourite strawberry syrup shipped in from his native France by the club’s shop has sold out.
Meanwhile, another big incentive for Ba would be Europa League football, and United were sixth in the table ahead of this afternoon’s fixtures. Last weekend’s 1-0 win over Norwich City ended a run of four games without a victory.
And Pardew says that result – which kept the club’s lead over seventh-placed Liverpool to five points, and kept Chelsea, in fifth, in their sights – gave his squad a huge lift after their demoralising defeat to Arsenal five days earlier.
“I think everybody looked at the Norwich game and said we petered out and were hanging on,” said Pardew.
“But people forgot the effort we put in at Arsenal. I thought we did well in the second half to see that game out.
“It was a massive relief on the training ground, and a release of pressure. You can feel it with the players – they’re playing with a buoyancy. There’s a brightness in the game. I actually feel more confident than I have done in a few weeks.”