The Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew, has turned the tables on Demba Ba, by telling the forward that unless he signs a new deal he will be sold in the summer.
Ba has a £7.5m release clause in his contract, and that causes disruption at St James' Park during every transfer window when speculation around the Senegal international escalates. Newcastle spent much of the summer awaiting a bid that would trigger the clause but it did not come.
He has already been linked with moves to Arsenal, Queen's Park Rangers and Paris St-Germain next month. Pardew is confident the player is happy to stay at Newcastle until the end of the season, but if he does the manager will not allow the same circus about the striker's future to unfold.
The 51-year-old said yesterday: "Really and truly this window is the key because, if Demba goes in this window, it will cause us a problem.
"I think he will stay, but there's a possibility he could go because of the clause that's still in force. I won't let it run until the summer. I'll do something about it. We will either move Demba on or we will secure him in the summer."
Ba has 11 goals to his name this season to go with the 16 he scored during the last campaign.
Pardew confirmed that the ankle injury suffered by the midfielder Vurnon Anita at Manchester United on Wednesday is only bruising and, although he will miss tomorrow's trip to Arsenal, he is not facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Arsenal's Santi Cazorla believes team-mate Jack Wilshere is quickly getting back to his best after long-term injury. "[Wilshere] has amazing potential," Cazorla said. "I did not know him well when I arrived because he was not at the training sessions due to his injury, [but] everyone was talking about him, saying that when he returned, the team would improve, and that has been the case. Every day he is gaining more confidence."