Newcastle sign £8m Papiss Cisse... and will keep Ba
Newcastle United last night became the biggest spenders in the January transfer window last night when they agreed an £8 million deal to sign the Senegalese forward Papiss Cissé from Freiburg on a five-and-a-half year deal.
The 26-year-old was also handed the coveted No 9 shirt that has been left unused since Andy Carroll moved to Liverpool for £35m almost 12 months ago.
It is a move Newcastle officials hope will send out a message of their intentions to push on for a European place, and could rise by a further £1m if the striker is successful in his move to the Premier League.
Significantly it is not expected to be at the expense of his international team-mate Demba Ba, who has made an incredible impact since completing his own move to St James' Park last summer.
Ba's own position has drawn speculation ever since a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for around £7m was revealed. The Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, admitted he had an interest in the forward, who has already scored 15 goals this season, but there were assertions from those close to Ba last night that he would not be leaving because of Cissé's arrival.
Indeed it is understood to be the case that the clause in his contract actually stipulated Ba cannot be sold until the summer transfer window. Instead, Newcastle officials were privately and publicly delighted to have made such a high-profile signing midway through the window.
Cissé's goalscoring level at both club and international level has been impressive. He scored 37 times in his two-year spell in the Bundesliga and similarly has a better than goal every two game average with his country (seven in 12).
The player scored 22 times last season for Freiburg, a club record that is also the most an African player has scored in a single campaign in the Bundesliga.
He underwent a medical at a North-east hospital yesterday morning after flying in from Senegal's African Cup of Nations training camp, was taken to Newcastle's training ground and was then given a tour of St James' Park.
"I am aware of the huge importance of the No 9 shirt," said Cissé. "When I spoke with the manager he made it very clear how important this shirt is. I will treat it with the respect and I hope to do my very best in it. It's an honour to play for such a big club and I am looking forward to it. "
Newcastle have trailed three strikers since Carroll's departure; they had been on the brink of signing Sochaux's Modibo Maiga at the end of last year, only for a scan to reveal a knee problem, very late in the deal. That opened the door to a potential return move for Paris St-Germain's Mevlut Erding, who they also spoke to last summer, and club officials weighed up a renewed approach. However, the feeling was that Cissé offered better value and would have a greater impact in England.
"Ever since Andy Carroll left, Papiss was my first choice in the specific role he has at the end of the play," said the Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew.
"He is a finisher with an already-established CV in the Bundesliga, where we have monitored him for the best part of two years. Unfortunately he was out of reach, financially, for us in the summer, but it recently became apparent that we could do the deal in this window.
"It has become obvious this season that the team and the club have done exceptionally well, and Mike Ashley has backed me to bring this player here. I spoke to Demba about Papiss, and he cannot wait to join up with his team-mate in Newcastle.
"Our fans know that this shirt brings its own pressures, one of the iconic numbers in world football – the No 9 of Newcastle. It will be only fair that Papiss is given time to understand the responsibility it brings."