Lokomotiv Moscow may be close to acquiring Newcastle United midfielder Cheik Tiote, according to reports coming out of Russia. The 28 year-old missed the Toon's first match of the season this weekend with a hamstring injury, and Jack Colback and Vurnon Anita combined to sufficiently replace him, something that could be fueling these latest rumors.
Lokomotiv Moscow had an interest in Tiote last summer, but couldn't match #NUFC's price. Wonder if that may now change.— Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage) August 20, 2014
The original tweet:
"Локомотив" поборется с "Арсеналом" за полузащитника Шейка Тиоте pic.twitter.com/v9etcRz8XP
— Известия (@izvestia_ru) August 20, 2014
The translation, according to my browser: "'Lokomotiv' will compete with 'Arsenal' for the midfielder Cheik Tiote".
That's pretty tame, as transfer rumblings go, but if there's a history there, then this could be the real deal. We don't know what Newcastle's valuation is - last week, it was rumored that Arsenal wanted him for £8 million, but that appeared to be a rehash of an old story. As we said then, if that's the number, it's a disappointing one. Presumably the funds would go toward purchasing a much-needed striker or central defender (whether in this window or the one in January is anybody's guess), and £8 million will likely only get them part of the way there. The figure also appears to be below market value, which would make this a strange move from Mike Ashley's perspective.
Even if they are able to replace him with, say, a center half that would be an upgrade over Fabricio Coloccini or Mike Williamson, it's a case of running to stand still. There's simply no internal replacement that does what Tiote does as well as he does. Both Anita and Colback sit more on the table-setting side of the passing - ball-winning continuum, and Alan Pardew doesn't appear ready to give Gael Bigirimana playing time at the senior level.
In any case, it wouldn't be a surprise if this happens, though I wonder about why Tiote would accept a move to Moscow while his services are still appreciated in the Premier League. If he leaves, Newcastle will still have plenty of business to do before the shop window closes in less than two weeks.
UPDATE: Newcastle have labeled Lokomotiv's bid as "derisory," according to The Shields-Gazette. You can now mark that off on your transfer window bingo card.