Chelsea face Toon tussle for Ivorian international

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Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew insists it will be difficult for any clubs to sign midfielder Cheick Tiote during the January transfer window, amid reported interest from Chelsea.

The 25-year-old Ivorian international penned a new six-and-a-half year deal back in February, but that has done little to prevent the speculation currently surrounding his future.

Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas has been credited with an interest in Tiote as he looks to strengthen his Stamford Bridge squad in January in an attempt to get Chelsea's title tilt back on track.

But any attempts the Portuguese tactician may have of luring the African ace to west London will be met with stiff opposition from Tiote's current employers.

Newcastle sold Andy Carroll for big money in the last January transfer window, while the likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique all left St James' Park in the summer, though Pardew insists history will not repeat itself this time around.

"He's a big target because he's a great player, and great players are going to be targets," said the Magpies boss.

"We are always on our guard with Cheick because we realise that to us, he is very, very important and it would be very, very difficult to get him out of here."

Pardew knows a sizeable bid for Tiote or any other player could leave the board of directors with another difficult decision to make, but he has reassured the Newcastle fans that every decision will be made with the club's best interests at heart.

"You never know with the window - it's such a minefield of possibilities," he added. "We have one or two players here that top clubs, I'm sure, will be interested in.

"But the one thing I would say on that is that they are going to have to pay a lot of money to take anybody out of here because we are obviously in a good position, not just on the playing side, but financially as well."

Cheik Tiote
Premier League
Newcastle United

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