Newcastle United transfer focus – Rich Anzhi eye star striker Cisse

Having burst onto the Premier League scene in January 2012 after a £9m switch from Bundesliga side Freiburg, Papiss Cisse endured a hard-fought first full campaign with Newcastle as the club limped to a 16th place finish.

But a haul of 13 goals this season has caught the eye of Russian side Anzhi, especially since the Senegalese hitman dumped them out of this year’s Europa League with an injury time strike. With no indication that the northern club would consider selling another star striker, having let Demba Ba join Chelsea in the January transfer window, The Sun has recently reported that the wealthy Russians are lining up a five-year contract worth £50,000 a week.

While Newcastle will surely not sell him on the cheap, Anzhi have the financial backing to fund a move should they want to spend the reported £25m price tag on the striker, who has scored 26 goals in 61 appearances during his spell under Alan Pardew. Another sale of a senior striker with Premier League experience may not be a good move for the Magpies, leaving Shola Ameobi as the only recognised front man going into pre-season, with Yoan Gouffran currently being deployed in a wider role.

Cisse has expressed no desire to leave St James’ Park but owner Mike Ashley has a proven track record of selling star players if the price is right – the sales of Andy Carroll and Ba prove this. Add to this reports that they will miss out on striking targets Carroll and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and it could be that Pardew has to overhaul his striking options rather than increase them.

The Senegal man has proved his worth to the Newcastle first team and, while this season did not reach the heights of his first, he remains a key component, often leading the front line alone since the departure of Ba. Even though he only netted three league goals in the shadow of the now-Chelsea man, Cisse went on to score 10 goals in all competitions after that sale, also taking Newcastle past interested suitors Anzhi in the Europa League round of 16.

Not only would the sale of Cisse be detrimental to the football side of things at St James’ Park, but could also send out the wrong message to other clubs interested in their star players. Yohan Cabaye in particular is reported by many as a target of Paris Saint-Germain, with the Independent stating that Director of Football Leonardo refused to rule out a move. PSG are again a team backed by enormous wealth and, should Cisse be sold, it may tempt the French club into testing Newcastle’s resolve.

This could spark a mad dash for other star performers such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Tim Krul, to name just two. A mass exodus at the club could well see another campaign full of struggle against relegation. Cisse’s sale would leave huge gaps in the Magpies front line and, while the club is unwilling to sell, there always seems to be a right price to owner Ashley.

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