Chelsea moved one step closer to landing Newcastle United striker Demba Ba by triggering the release clause in his contract, according to Newcastle's official site. Ba won't be available for the Magpies' clash with Everton on Wednesday.
Newcastle United can confirm that Chelsea Football Club has made an official offer for Demba Ba which has triggered the release clause in the player's contract.
The Club has given the player permission to speak to Chelsea FC and therefore he will not be included in the squad for tonight's game against Everton.
UPDATE: Wednesday, January 2 at 2:50 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Say your goodbyes, Newcastle fans, and show some hospitality, Chelsea faithful—Ba is headed to Stamford Bridge.
#nufc boss Alan Pardew said:"It is done, he will go to Chelsea. Good luck to him."— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) January 2, 2013
This is a smart piece of business by Chelsea, as the club gets an in-form striker without breaking the bank. For Newcastle, it's salt in a wound that has grown from a wildly disappointing 2012-13 season.
---End of Update---
While rumors have linked Ba to the Blues for a while, nothing was official until now. That said, triggering the clause was the easy part. Coming to personal terms with the dynamic goal-scoring threat will likely be more tricky.
The 27-year-old Senegal international is tied for second place in Premier League goals with 13, trailing only Robin van Persie of Manchester United. Getting to play with a more talented group at Stamford Bridge would help him challenge van Persie for the lead.
It's no surprise the Blues are chasing a striker of Ba's caliber given their struggles up front. Fernando Torres lacks the consistency necessary for a club to rely on him as its main offensive weapon, and Chelsea lack other options.
Adding Ba to the equation would give them a player who's proven capable of making plenty of noise in the attacking third on a regular basis. It's exactly what the Blues need if they want to get back in the title chase alongside the Manchester clubs.
That said, a deal isn't complete. Coming to personal terms is often a difficult hurdle to jump, especially when it involves a player like Ba, who's on the verge of making the biggest move of his career so far. That comes at a cost to the club.
Chelsea wouldn't have taken the step of triggering the out clause unless they believed a deal was within reach, though. Now, the Blues must find a way to close the deal and add another key piece to the squad for the season's second half.