2011-12 has been a memorable season for Newcastle, who have exceeded all expectations to be in the running for a Champions League qualification place with a handful of games to go. Despite a 4-0 defeat to Wigan on Saturday, the Tyneside club are still in the mix for a top four finish, although they have a number of difficult games still to play. However, as with any overachiever, bigger clubs have taken notice, and Alan Pardew may well find it difficult to hold onto his key men this summer. Here are five that will attract plenty of suitors.
Arguably the signing of the season, Ba moved to Newcastle on a free transfer last summer, and especially in the first half of the season, has been a star at the Sports Direct Arena. With 16 goals this season to date and a reported £7 million release clause in his contract, Ba will be one of the hottest prospects in this summer’s transfer window.
Suitors: Tottenham, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain
An excellent shotstopper who has grown in stature over the last 12 months, Tim Krul has been a key reason for Newcastle’s rise to the top four this term. The 24-year-old has made the number 1 jersey his own over the last couple of seasons, with excellent performances pushing him into the Netherlands international set-up. Despite recently signing a new contract, Krul may well get some attention from north London when the window reopens.
Suitors: Arsenal, Tottenham
The assured midfielder has been the heartbeat of the Newcastle team this season, with composure in possession, an eye for a pass and unrelenting work-rate making him a Toon favourite. Cabaye reportedly cost Newcastle a mere £5 million, and the star midfielder is likely to be part of the France squad that travels to Euro 2012.
Suitors: Manchester United
Despite missing six weeks of the season on African Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast, Cheik Tiote has been integral to Newcastle’s strong defensive record this term. A battler and enforcer in every sense of the word, the African holding midfielder has protected a changing back four this season, with Tiote’s energy and combativeness catching the eye.
Similar to Krul, skipper Coloccini has recently penned a new deal at the club, but may well be a target this summer. A shaky start to his time in England has been discarded, as the Argentina international has shown more confidence and better organisational skills under Pardew’s tutelage this season. An unsung hero, especially given Steven Taylor’s long-term absence from the side.
Published – Bleacher Report