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Agent fuels Demba Ba exit talk
DEMBA Ba will look to leave Newcastle United if he is regularly dropped to the substitutes' bench this season, according to his agent.
Ba was a surprise omission from Alan Pardew's starting line-up at Everton on Monday, but the Senegal international salvaged a 2-2 draw with two second-half goals after replacing the ineffectual Sylvain Marveaux at the interval.
Prior to kick-off, Ba's brother, Hamady, claimed Pardew was "crazy" for leaving the striker on the bench, and Ba conceded he was "not happy with some things" after the final whistle at Goodison Park.
Now, Ba's agent, Alex Gontran, has waded into the row, claiming his client will assess his options if Monday's snub becomes a regular occurrence.
"Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations (in January), Demba doesn't understand the management," said Gontran. "If he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other solutions.
"Demba is happy at Newcastle. He is playing in the Premier League, with lot of fellow French speakers and he loves the club's supporters.
"He would like to start every game but he respects the choice of the coach, even if he does not always understand or agree."
Ba's future was the subject of considerable speculation in the summer, much of which was driven by the presence of a £7m buy-out clause in the African's contract.
That clause expired at the end of July, and it had been hoped that Ba's willingness to remain on Tyneside was proof of his contentment at life with the Magpies.
This week's events have challenged that assumption, and Pardew now faces the difficult task of keeping one of his key players happy while simultaneously maintaining his own authority and leadership.
He admitted Ba had been "angry" when he addressed the press in the wake of Monday's draw, but Gontran's comments have hinted at a deeper fracture in the pair's relationship and it will be interesting to see how Pardew attempts to limit the damage.
The Newcastle manager shuffled Ba to the touchline in order to accommodate Papiss Cisse in the second half of last season, a move that clearly rankled with the former West Ham forward, who scored 14 Premier League goals before January last term.
It appears as though Pardew continues to regard Cisse as his number one striker, but with the Magpies' £9m man struggling for form this season, he cannot afford to alienate Ba given the lack of viable attacking alternatives.
"How could you put your best striker with full confidence on the left wing?" asked Gontran. "The choice to put Demba on the left last season was good for the club, because Cisse scored 13 goals.
"But there was a lack of recognition for Demba. It is more difficult to play well when you don't have the confidence of your staff."