Tiote may depart but sales need not derail a resurgent Newcastle

Cheik Tiote is the poster boy of the new and improved Newcastle. Possibly chief scout Graham Carr’s best acquisition, Tiote has been a revelation since his £3.5m move from FC Twente in 2010. Newcastle have since topped up his contract, which currently runs to 2017 and is believed to be worth around £67,000 a week, in order to protect their investment.

The Independent recently reported that Chelsea are considering a £30m swoop for both Tiote and Tim Krul in the summer, with £20m of that sum attributed to the purchase of Tiote. The piece also suggests that Newcastle already have a replacement lined up in AZ Alkmaar’s 18-year-old Adam Maher, the transactions would certainly fit Newcastle’s new buy low, sell high transfer policy.

Newcastle recently posted a profit for the first time since 2005 when they revealed a very impressive £32.6m gain for the last financial year, after recording a £17.1m loss the previous year. This represents an improvement of nearly fifty million pounds, justifying the assertion of managing director Derek Llambias that the club’s financial results are “extremely strong.” That figure may be significantly boosted by the sale of Andy Carroll, but Newcastle are also cutting costs across the board, reducing the wage bill from £71m in 2009, the 6th highest in the Premier League in their relegation season, to £54m in 2011, currently the 13th largest.

After becoming a laughing stock in recent years, this refreshing new attitude is reflected in their transfer market dealings. “We’ll be losing one or two names this summer, but that’ll be regenerated back into the squad” revealed Llambias to Sky Sports recently. “For instance, Tiote has been with us a year and a half. He is out there. People know he’s a good player. How are we going to stop a big club from coming in for him? It’ll be very hard.”

Tiote has formed a formidable partnership with French international Yohan Cabaye, a £4.3m signing from Ligue 1 champions Lille in the summer. They provide the driving force in an overachieving Newcastle side, with Tiote providing a defensive shield, allowing Cabaye to dictate play further forward. A combination to rival any other Premier League central midfield pairing, the Toon Army will understandably hope that the duo can be retained for the foreseeable future.

After many years of throwing money at their problems, Newcastle appear to be adopting a more sustainable policy, the long term benefits of which fans should embrace, even if departures ensue. With a business model that will necessitate sales, the likelihood is that the likes of Tiote will be targeted, but the potential departure of the Ivory Coast international may not be as devastating as it may initially seem. A knee injury and participation in the African Cup of Nations has contributed towards Titote missing 13 of Newcastle’s 30 league games this term, more than half of those games were won despite his absence, including an impressive 3-1 victory at The Hawthorns on Sunday.

Rated as 50-50 prior to the West Brom game with a hamstring strain, Tiote will be keen to return for the visit of seventh-placed Liverpool at the weekend, who now trail sixth-placed Newcastle by eight points. A positive result would surely open up an insurmountable gap, allowing Newcastle to focus on overhauling fifth-placed Chelsea and securing a stunning return to European competition.

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