A new season beckons but the same old questions continue for Alan Pardew – about Demba Ba, about Andy Carroll and about the centre-forwards Newcastle United will have for the first game, against Tottenham Hotspur. Both? Unlikely. One? Probably. Neither? Possibly.
It is a more tricky situation to address because we are 12 days into the month when Ba can leave for just £7m as a result of a clause in his contract that runs out at the end of this month. That has made any form of declaration about his future particularly difficult, from either player or manager, as has the number of parties interested in any deal.
Pardew said: "The whole thing with Demba has been constant. Whether that changes I don't know, but I've not seen any sign from Demba – he's actually training very, very well and looking good – that suggests he wants another club. I don't sense that.
"He has a contract to Newcastle and he is loved here. I genuinely don't see a situation where he wants to move on. He has not stressed to me he wants to move to pastures new. He has said to me he wants some reassurance from me because he wants a more striking role this season and I think he will.
"He played a couple of roles that were unorthodox for me last season to help the team, that's the sort of person he is. He wants to play through the middle and he wants to score goals – that's what he does best.
"Andy Carroll did an absolutely terrific job here," Pardew added. "I have always supported him even while he has been at Liverpool, when a lot of others weren't. I think he got a bit of a raw deal but we started to see the real Andy towards the end of the season. Where he treads the boards we will have to wait and see but, yes, possibly there will always be that link between Andy and Newcastle."
Pardew did confirm that he expected to sign a new striker following the departures of Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands, and he felt the goalposts had been moved as Newcastle tried to sign FC Twente's Luuk de Jong, whose price rose to £16m.
He still wants Mathieu Débuchy, the France right-back who has been offered an extended deal at Lille, and said that losing Yohan Cabaye, Débuchy's mate, was not in his plans. The Newcastle manager is also monitoring Junior Hoilett's situation at Blackburn and believes there will be "three new faces" arriving at the club in the summer, which suggests that one might not be Carroll.
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