It has been rumbling in that lovely rumor mill that gets pushed into the room with the purpose (I suppose) of replacing the Christmas tree that Cheik Tiote has agreed terms with Shanghai Greenland Shenua and is close to completing an £8m (or £4m) move to the Chinese side which for 6 months paid fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba. Tiote is one of the last remaining remnants of the "Successful Stage" of the Graham Carr era even in light of injuries and uneven performances over the past couple of years. If the number is truly closer to the 8 million end of things, the club will profit some £4.5m for a player that has been far from his best for a protracted amount of time. Is it far from the upwards of £20m that he was rumored to be able to fetch a few short years back? For sure. It would still be a major transfer victory.
Before he was saddled with a reputation that earned him cards before he even took the pitch – or the ref knew the number of the player that committed a foul ... remember Howard Webb carding him v. Manchester United only after he saw the 24 shirt walking away from him? – he was imperious in the middle of the park for Newcastle United. It has been suggested that he hasn't been the same without Yohan Cabaye next to him to "do his thinking for him", and it is true that he has not looked the same (on or off the ball, to be fair) since Cabaye left, but he has also been injured for a lot of that time. Chickens and eggs and whatever. He has lately been a liability on the ball, which is likely one of the biggest reasons he is being shifted as Steve McClaren is desperately clutching at players who can fill what has become a gaping void in the middle of the park for his club.
Tiote, for his part, will hold a solid place in the annals of Newcastle United lore for that goal. Honestly, I remember that most for the comeback one but more for the People's Elbow dropped on celebrating teammates by Steve Harper... but that's neither here nor there. The point is that for me, I will always remember this performance as defining what Cheik Tiote was when he was at his best in a black and white shirt:
For me, the whole "player x was in player y's pocket" is a little bit overdone, but if there ever was a situation where that was an apt description, it was this match. Tiote frustrated a younger Wayne Rooney to no end. He was everything that you want from a defensive midfield player. This is how I choose to remember Cheik Tiote as he moves on from his time at St. James' Park. We'll never truly know of he was eventually "Pardewed" or if his injury trouble brought on by the AFCON being contested 6 times a year for 3 years... but if whatever happened hadn't, we'd likely be saying goodbye to a true legend.