Newcastle Transfer Rumours: 6 Potential Replacements for Demba Ba
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Everyone in football is replaceable. While Newcastle United find themselves on uneasy ground with Demba Ba—a man who has single-handedly rescued them from two defeats already this season—he is not indispensable.
Toon fans were furious when Andy Carroll was allowed to leave, but Ba and Papiss Cisse did more than enough last year to compensate for his departure.
Like any sport, football is a fickle business, and clubs will have contingency plans in place as soon as rumours begin to surface about a player looking for the exit.
Ba is no exception, and if he leaves, there are players whom Alan Pardew could bring in to ease the loss. Recent reports suggest that Pardew has already started looking around, so it’s worthwhile to cast an eye over some potential Tyneside targets.
Seydou Doumbia would add the same kind of goal threat that Ba currently offers.
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In addition to Cheick Tiote, Pardew is reportedly hoping for further success with Ivory Coast-born players.
Seydou Doumbia would slot in as a direct replacement for Ba; although Ba is stronger in possession, Doumbia has excellent pace and control that enable him to get into a lot of goalscoring opportunities.
This has been evident all his career, from his early years in Switzerland when he was primarily used as a substitute, through to his first-team opportunities.
It seems obvious to suggest that more playing time automatically brings more goals, but that's not always the case. Some strikers are best utilised as impact players off the bench, but Doumbia isn't one of them.
The longer he spent on the pitch, the more he scored. He hit 30 goals in his second season at Young Boys Bern and moved on to CSKA Moscow as a result. This free-scoring rate continued in Russia, and he has now attracted the attention of Europe.
In order to bring him to Tyneside, it was reported by The Daily Mail that Pardew would have to hand over £16 million in order to compete with Juventus and Lazio, two other clubs looking to acquire Doumbia.
This wouldn't please owner Mike Ashley, especially if Ba's £7.5 million release clause is activated in the January window.
In an ideal world, Newcastle would bring in Doumbia to play alongside Ba and Cisse, but the money is unlikely to be available without the loss of Ba. Even with the departure of the Premier League's top scorer, £16 million is going to be asking a lot.
Martin Harnik brings a dual-threat attack that could serve Pardew well.
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With Demba Ba reportedly unhappy with being asked to play out wide, it seems strange to replace him with a striker who has found more success as a winger, but it's impossible to argue with Harnik's production in the Bundesliga.
Languishing on the bench following a €300,000 move to Stuttgart, it wasn't until Harnik was thrown in on the right that he started to make good on his promise. Although he started as a striker and could be used in that role again, there's no ignoring a player who scores over 15 goals a season from the right wing.
Newcastle would benefit from this acquisition immediately, and Harnik would create chances both for himself and the likes of Cisse and Shola Ameobi.
His strong instinct for goal translates into his runs, and he can draw defenders away to create for his teammates. This also works in his own favour; he his an able dribbler, using his good presence on the ball to beat players and go for glory himself.
Harnik signed a new deal earlier this year, so his services will come at a high price. It's a gamble, but it might be worthwhile for the production that Harnik would bring to the team.
Newcastle have allowed teams to control the midfield too often already this season and if it continues up until January, Pardew will need to take steps to address it. If he should lose Ba and need to strengthen the midfield, Harnik would seem to be the ideal solution to his problems.
Joshua King has fallen out of favour at Old Trafford and is rumoured to be looking for a move.
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Currently at Manchester United, King has struggled to get into a first team that is loaded with talent at the striker position. The signing of Robin van Persie has pushed him further down the pecking order and latest rumours link Newcastle and “several clubs” with the 20-year-old forward (via SkySports.com).
King's unrest has been in the news since the beginning of September, when The Daily Mail reported that he could be on his way to Molde, where former United player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the coach.
Solskjaer was the man who brought King to United in his previous role as scout, so it would be a reunion of sorts. The same Mail article stated that King would bide his time until the January window before making his move. A statement from King confirmed this:
I have set Christmas as a deadline. If I haven't got more playing time by then, I will consider moving to another club. Considering the players United have, it is not easy to get into the starting 11.
I would prefer to stay in England, but in case I do return to Norway, Molde is the only option.
A recent report seems to contradict that statement, however, with his agent Jim Solbakken stating that the most likely scenario is that he will remain with United:
I have discussed attacking options with Newcastle. There are many clubs who are interested in Joshua King but he is where he should be. He could have joined many clubs during the summer but got confidence in the Manchester United organisation.
The common element in these seemingly disparate statements is English football. If King is indeed seeking more playing time—as well as wishing to stay in the Premier League—then a bid from Newcastle is likely to be of interest.
Jo Inge Berget
Jo Inge Berget has played as both a midfielder and a striker, which would help Pardew's rotation.
Another player who has the capacity to play both in midfield and as a striker, Molde forward Jo Inge Berget has found himself linked with a move to the Toon in January, according to The Sun.
Berget himself refused to be drawn into the discussion, stating that he knew nothing about it other than what had been reported by the media.
Jim Solbakken is also the agent for Berget, and gave the same sort of answer as he did to the questions regarding Joshua King:
I have been in touch with Newcastle for many reasons, (including) regarding forwards, but I don't want to say if we have discussed Jo Inge. (Via ESPN.com)
The fact that Solbakken has two players linked with Newcastle probably isn't coincidence, and it's likely that he has been feeding the press with quotes from his clients in order to drum up interest in them ahead of the January window.
It's rumoured that Berget is valued at around £2 million, so would constitute a value buy, possibly with the addition of another striker to fill the void left by Ba.
Berget can play out wide or sit just behind a main striker, which would sit well with Cisse, who relies as much on service as he does carving out his own opportunities. This is similar to Ba's style, which has contributed to the players' unsuccessful attempts to partner each other up front.
Hooper has been an unqualified success at Celtic; is he about to make a move to the EPL?
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However, with Liverpool's highly publicised interest in Ba, Newcastle are listed by Metro as one of the clubs looking at Hooper.
Hooper would be a worthy addition to Pardew's squad and would likely force himself into contention for an England place if he could continue his SPL form into the English league.
Hooper has proved himself in Champions League competition, with a goal and a fantastic overall performance in Celtic's historic 3-2 away win against Spartak Moscow.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon will obviously be keen to retain his striker and told Metro that talks are underway with Hooper about a new contract at Parkhead.
However, there's no denying that the EPL is a step up in quality and would be a tempting move for a player looking to make his presence known to Roy Hodgson.
Jozy Altidore didn't fare well during his last spell in England.
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After a poor start to his career—including a loan spell at Hull City—Altidore has put together a string of impressive performances at AZ Alkmaar, netting eight Eredivisie goals in seven games to start the year.
As always, this sort of streak draws attention from the rest of the world. Altidore is still only 22 and has grown a lot as a player since he burst onto the scene.
He was raw potential when he signed for Villareal for $10 million, but failed to deliver and was shipped off to Hull on loan in his second year. Disciplinary problems ended his time in England, and Hull sent him back to Spain.
Villareal cut their losses after another unsuccessful loan to Turkish side Bursaspor and Altidore was sold to AZ. Once there, coach Gertjan Verbeek was able to harness his potential and instill it with the discipline he previously lacked (via FoxSports.com).
After this was in place, his technique improved and he was no longer so reliant on his athletic ability to win the one-one-one battles. This has translated into goals and he is now being talked about in the present tense again.
Pardew could acquire him for a reasonable sum, as he isn't currently on a long-term deal at AZ. Altidore could be a good asset for the Toon, has the strength to compete in the Premier League, as well as offering the kind of aerial threat the club enjoyed when Andy Carroll was the target man.