I love being at Newcastle - Ba
Newcastle striker Demba Ba has issued his strongest statement yet on his desire to remain on Tyneside.
The 27-year-old Senegal international has spent the months since it emerged that there is a release-clause in his contract with the Magpies fending off speculation that he could leave this summer.
Speaking to the Journal from Newcastle's training base in Portugal, he said: "I don't care what is being said. I think it's part of the game. However, I have never said anything other than I love being at Newcastle."
Despite repeated denials that he is looking for a way out of the club, he continues to be linked with a series of suitors, the latest rumour suggesting that he could be used to help broker a deal to bring Liverpool's Andy Carroll back to the north-east.
Ba added: "The newspapers and I are not very friendly at the moment. For months and months and months, people have been talking about me, but there is nothing happening.
"Of course, I am looking forward to next season with Newcastle. We just have to build on the progress we made last season. For me, I just can't wait to start the first game."
Ba arrived at St James' Park on a free transfer from West Ham last summer and proved an instant hit, scoring 15 goals before heading off on African Nations Cup duty at the turn of the year.
He added only one more on his return after being asked to assume a different role following the January capture of compatriot Papiss Cisse, who made an equally sensational contribution to the Magpies' surge into the top five with a 13-goal haul.
Manager Alan Pardew has spent the summer attempting to add to his striking options after allowing Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands to leave the club, although FC Twente's Luuk de Jong proved to be beyond his means, as has - to date - Marseille's Loic Remy, who was the subject of a brief conversation.
Pardew is keen to hang on to Ba and relaxed over the situation, although in that respect - if not on the subject of prospective signings - the end of the transfer window cannot come quickly enough for him.