NEWCASTLE UNITED face losing another key player before the transfer window shuts with interest growing in midfielder Cheick Tiote.
There has been speculation surrounding tough-tackling Tiote for a few weeks with some reports suggesting the Ivory Coast midfielder was looking to move on during the transfer window.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a long-term admirer of the 28-year-old and the Gunners have been linked with a move before. However, there are other clubs in pursuit and reports in Russia yesterday suggested Lokomotiv Moscow have had a bid turned down.
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Tiote missed Newcastle United’s opening day defeat to Manchester City on Sunday with a hamstring injury and it is unknown whether he will return against Aston Villa on Saturday, but the situation bares similarity to what the Magpies experienced with Yohan Cabaye last summer.
The French international made it clear he wanted to move on after Newcastle rejected a £12m bid from Arsenal on the eve of their Premier League opener last year and once again there is uncertainty surrounding the future of one of their key midfielders.
While it has not been confirmed whether Tiote has asked to leave, the fact there is uncertainty surrounding one of their key men going into the final week of the transfer window is a worry.
After a disappointing 2012-13 campaign, Tiote improved considerably last term and showed a new sense of maturity after being handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini.
While he is contracted to the club until 2017, at 28 it is understood Newcastle would be willing to listen to offers for the midfielder, but only at the right price.
They value the World Cup star at around £8m, but so far no one, including Lokomotiv Moscow, have come anywhere near that sum with the Russian club understood to have offered less than half of that.
Their interest could spark other clubs into action, though, and it remains to be seen whether Tiote will still be at the club when the transfer window shuts on September 1.
The interest in Tiote will be concerning for Magpies boss Alan Pardew, who is well aware of the effects Yohan Cabaye’s move to Paris St Germain had on the squad during the second half of last season.
Pardew isn’t short of midfield options having recruited Jack Colback, Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong this summer, but losing Tiote would leave him lacking a combative midfielder to play in front of the back four.