Belfast Telegraph

Ba's Newcastle future in doubt after agent criticises Pardew

By Martin Hardy

Demba Ba's Newcastle United future is once more in doubt after the player's agent criticised the club's manager, Alan Pardew, for dropping him at Everton on Monday night.

Alex Gontran admitted Ba would look at "other solutions" if he did not regain his starting role, having become unhappy at being played out of position since the turn of the year.

Newcastle do not want to lose a player who has scored 19 goals since he moved from West Ham United, but the outburst follows a summer of speculation, when he was available for £7m because of a clause in his contract.

Ba was left out of Newcastle's starting XI for their 2-2 draw at Goodison Park on Monday night, a move that led his brother, Hamady, to brand Pardew as "crazy" on his Twitter account.

The forward came off the bench at half-time in the draw with Everton when his side were losing. He scored twice but later added to the unrest by admitting he was unhappy with things that had been happening lately.

That, however, was tame in comparison to the criticism from his agent Gontran. "Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn't understand the management," he said. "If he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other solutions. The choice to put Demba on the left last season was good for the club, because [Papiss] Cissé scored 13 goals, but there was a lack of recognition for Demba. It is more difficult to play well when you don't have the confidence of your staff.

"How could you put your best striker with full confidence on the left wing? He is playing in the Premier League, with lot of fellow French speakers and he loves the club's supporters. He would like to start every game but he respects the choice of the coach, even if he does not always understand or agree."

Ba, interviewed immediately after the Everton match, said: "I was very determined because lately I have not been so happy with some things. Some things have been going on. When I got my boots on, I couldn't wait."

That alone had brought an instant response from Pardew. "I can't keep everyone in the squad happy," he said. "There are one or two who aren't happy. Sometimes players play better when they're angry."

Pardew does not want to lose Ba and he was frustrated rather than furious at yesterday's fresh outburst. Ba has been a difficult player for Newcastle to keep happy because of the number of people involved in his transfer to St James' Park, when he moved from West Ham. It was leaked that he had a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for £7m during the summer, a situation Newcastle wanted to keep quiet.

However, despite reports of interest from Tottenham and Galatasaray, the club received no offers for the 27-year-old, and he came out at the end of the transfer window to say how happy he was at the club.

His form dipped following the arrival of his fellow Senegalese Cissé in January for £10m. While Cissé went on to score 13 goals in the remainder of the season, Ba, who was often played out of his natural central striking role, struggled to find the net. Indeed, his opening goal against Everton this week was only the third time he has scored while the pair have played together.

Pardew admitted in the summer that he had conversations with Ba because the player was keen for a reassurance that he would be used as an out-and-out centre forward this season, but Newcastle's start to the season has been unconvincing, and he was left out at Goodison, before his dramatic introduction.

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