It proved a highly satisfying Sunday for interim manager Rafa Benítez as he led the club into third place in the Premier League with a win atEverton before attention turned to the recruitment of the Newcastle striker.
Talks were scheduled between Stamford Bridge officials and Ba’s representatives last night. A clause in Ba’s contract means Alan Pardew is powerless to prevent the 27 year-old’s departure from St James’ Park and it is understood Chelsea are also willing to pay a further £2 million in agents’ fees to get the deal done.
Having agreed the £12 million sale of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool, Benítez needs more firepower because he saw Fernando Torres toil again despite an encouraging victory at Goodison Park.
Benítez was tight-lipped on the potential new arrival. “We do not talk about our business in public. My job is to prepare the team for games and they will let me know,” he said. “Ba plays for another team so I do not like to talk about it.”
Newcastle United are resigned to losing Ba who is looking for a five-year-contract and wages of around £83,000-a-week, a package Newcastle, who are interested in signing Marseille’s Loic Remy as a replacement, were unwilling to offer.
Ba will then have to pass a medical, which is not a foregone conclusion.Stoke City pulled out of a £5.5 million deal for Ba two years ago as they were concerned about a long-standing knee problem.
But he has not missed a game for Newcastle because of that injury, although it is a condition which needs careful management and may yet be a stumbling block if there are insurance issues.
Ba has been a huge success for Newcastle, scoring 29 goals in 54 league appearances. Privately, however, there will be a certain amount of relief inside St James’ Park if he does leave, even though he has scored more than half of the team’s Premier League goals this season. Many at the club believe speculation over the move has had a detrimental effect on morale.
Ba’s departure will also reignite Pardew’s interest in England international Andy Carroll, although they will wait until his loan deal atWest Ham United has ended in the summer to make a bid.
For Chelsea, Ba’s arrival will strengthen their strike force as Benítez still believes he can lead Chelsea to a title challenge. He secured what was arguably the most significant win of his reign so far on Merseyside. It was certainly the most resilient since he took over as Frank Lampard underlined his enduring importance with both goals.
Chelsea have now collected a maximum nine points over the festive period. “We have had some difficult games but especially this one because we were behind and they haven’t lost for a long time,” said Benítez. “It was a great win for us.”
Despite Lampard’s contribution, there appears to be no way back as the midfielder confirmed he is none the wiser about his future.
“He is a great player and a good professional who is doing extremely well,” said Benítez. “We try to get the best from him and at the end of the season who knows? I just want him fit, happy and scoring goals.”
He is under contract, doing well and that is the most important thing.” Lampard, expected to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer at the end of the season, struck in the 42nd and 72nd minute. It was 191st and 192nd goal for the club.
Lampard remained un-committal on what the new year holds. “We’ve not spoken (about a new contract). I just hope it brings for me playing in a winning team,” he said.
Culled from Telegraph