2:31pm Wednesday 2nd January 2013
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Demba Ba's Newcastle exit has moved a step closer as Chelsea finally triggered the release-clause in his contract.
The Blues have been given permission to talk to the 27-year-old Senegal international after meeting the £7million figure stipulated in the deal he signed with the Magpies during the summer of 2011.
Ba has been withdrawn from the Newcastle squad for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash with Everton at St James' Park as a result.
A club statement read: "Newcastle United can confirm that Chelsea Football Club has made an official offer for Demba Ba which has triggered the release clause in the player's contract. The club has given the player permission to speak to Chelsea FC and therefore he will not be included in the squad for tonight's game against Everton."
The move comes as little surprise after the Londoners held talks with the player's representatives at the weekend.
Those discussions were later described as "unproductive", but there was a feeling that it would not be the end of the matter.
Newcastle have tried unsuccessfully to renegotiate Ba's contract in recent months to prevent a repeat of the speculation which surrounded him during the summer.
However, with the former Hoffenheim and West Ham forward's representatives actively trying to move him on - Magpies boss Alan Pardew hit out earlier this week at the network of people purporting to be looking after the player - their hopes of securing him on a firmer footing always looked doomed.
Ba has been a major hit on Tyneside - he scored 16 goals last season and took his tally for the current campaign to 13 with a double in the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday - and Pardew was desperate to keep him. However, Newcastle were not prepared to shatter their wage structure to accommodate his demands.
Although a deal for Ba has not been finalised, Pardew has no doubt it will be shortly. "It's done. He will go to Chelsea with our blessing," Pardew told Sky Sports 1 before kick-off against Everton. "He has done fantastic for us and it's not a bad thing, all the uncertainty is now done and we can move on. This club is bigger than any player for sure."
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