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The Future of Demba Ba

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It's nearly January, so the quotes and rumors are flying. Is #19 headed to Arsenal? Should Newcastle break the bank to sign him to an extension?

Mike Hewitt

Ed. Note: Jim started this article, and Robert finished it. Whichever part you don't like, it's the other guy's fault.

January for many Toon supporters means a month of indigestion with a side of maalox and Alka-Seltzer cocktails... well... maybe not as bad as all that, but especially since the last minute sale of home-grown newly minted number 9 Andy Carroll, it seems there's always something - or more accurately, somebody - to lose sleep over.

I have nothing to say about those speculations [with Arsenal]. Nothing has happened.

The media know Arsenal need another striker and they know about my release clause. They need to make their own mind up about it.

Arsenal are one of those teams who makes you dream.

[Canal Plus via The Week]

Does that quote remind you of anybody? I don't want to be cynical about this. A small part of me clings to the knowledge that Erik Pieters has used the same language about Newcastle in the past, yet still has to pay to watch games at St James' Park like the rest of us. That release clause hangs over this club like a dark cloud. No amount of bargaining will keep Ba around for another half season - if Arsenal or anybody else want him, they can have him.

It's enough to make one want to scream at Mike Ashley to break his self-imposed strict wage structure and sign Ba to an extension already, if only to get rid of the clause. But is that really a good idea? Won't a £90,000 a week contract for #19 open the door for numbers 4, 9, and 10 to demand the same? This club can't afford that kind of coin. We've all known in the back of our heads that a squad made up of underpaid players couldn't stay together forever, but I at least had held out hope that it would last a little longer than this.