Three successive 2-1 defeats saw Senegal crash out of the Africa Cup of Nations at the group stage, despite their standing as one of the pre-tournament favourites. Newcastle fans will be delighted, Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse returned to Tyneside well ahead of schedule, with Ba’s ‘ticking time bomb’ knee still in good working order, keen to forge a prosperous partnership.
Ba bagged 40 goals in 103 games for Hoffenheim and that form has improved since arriving in England, with seven in 13 games for West Ham and 15 in 21 games for Newcastle. Signed as a free agent, due to a relegation release clause in his West Ham contract, Ba has been in fine fettle this season, free of injury and free of charge, although Newcastle are believed to have actually paid as much as £4m in agent and signing on fees to secure his services. His contract is heavily incentivised, with a basic weekly wage of around £35,000 a week, with a £20,000 appearance bonus, it is also believed that he has a release clause of around £7m, although he appears more likely to renegotiate his current deal than leave.
Despite their domestic goalscoring prowess, Ba and Cisse have thus far been relatively disappointing on the international stage. Both failing to register on recent international duty, Ba has four in 14 games with Cisse boasting a more impressive record of seven in 11 games, although all have been penalties. Hopes are high that the pair will dovetail at Newcastle, regardless of their failure to fire for Senegal, on paper they appear very well suited.
Despite his build, Ba has excelled as a withdrawn striker, dropping off to great effect, while Cisse is a more orthodox, attacking focal point, playing off the shoulder of defenders, a powerful presence that is good in the air with an impressive turn of pace. Alan Pardew will hope that these complimentary attributes will result in a formidable partnership, finally recruiting the player he identified 12 months ago to replace Andy Carroll.
“Unfortunately he was out of reach, financially, for us in the summer, but it recently became apparent that Derek Llambias and Lee Charnley could do the deal in this window,” claimed Pardew at Cisse’s unveiling. “He is a finisher with an already-established CV in the Bundesliga, where we have monitored him for the best part of two years.”
Cisse started on the bench against Aston Villa at the weekend, but the Toon Army were treated to 80 minutes of their new Senegalese strike force when Leon Best picked up an early knock. Lofty expectations were met with Ba opening the scoring from close range, before Cisse cancelled out Robbie Keane’s equaliser, thrashing in a stunning winner with a half-volley from just inside the box. Premier League defences beware.
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