By Matt Farr
Newcastle outcast Cheick Tiote is on the verge of completing his long-waited move away from St. James’ Park, according to a report.
The Chronicle claim that the Ivorian midfielder has flown to China, and is set to undergo a medical with Super League outfit Shandong Luneng, although personal terms are yet to be agreed.
The 30-year-old has spent six-and-a-half years at Newcastle, and is currently their longest-serving senior player, but he has fallen out-of-favour in recent seasons.
Since Rafa Benitez took charge just over a year ago, the Magpies boss has shown a preference towards more flamboyant, creative-minded midfielders, leaving Tiote short of first-team action.
Tiote has made just three appearances in all competitions this term, including just 15 minutes of Championship action. He has made 156 appearances for the club in total since his move to the club in 2010.
The midfielder has been pushing for a move away from St. James’ Park for quite some time, but has failed on several occasions within the last 18 months.
Clubs from Turkey, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, as well as others from China, have seen moves for Tiote fall through for various reasons. However, both Newcastle and Shandong Luneng will be praying that this one can finally be wrapped up.
As quoted by the Chronicle, Benitez told the media on Friday ahead of Newcastle’s clash with Derby that the deal could be completed at the weekend.
He said: “It should be done this weekend. I’ve spoken to [managing director] Lee [Charnley] – it’s nearly done.”
The transfer window in China remains open until the end of February, therefore clubs can still look to sign players from England and across Europe – meaning there was no rush to complete Tiote’s deal before Tuesday’s English transfer deadline.
A move to Shandong Luneng would see him link up with former Newcastle team-mate Papiss Cisse.
Football Insider verdict
Rafa Benitez has a wealth of midfield talent at his disposal, and Tiote simply can’t compete. In the recent absence of Jonjo Shelvey (suspension) and Mo Diame (AFCON), Tiote was handed a rare opportunity, but his lack of first-team action seriously took its’ toll. He did little to offer one last indication that he could be of value at Newcastle in the coming months, and it is clear there is only one place for him to go. Out. Due to the extended transfer deadline, the Chinese Super League now appears the most likely option for him, and if everything goes to plan with his medical, he could be a Shandong Luneng player by Monday. He’s now 30, but he has still got at least several more years in him, and hopefully he can get his career back on track before it is too late.
In other Newcastle transfer news, Victor Fernandez has aired his delight after signing a professional deal with the club.