Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned the Premier League's big guns it will cost them a fortune to lure Cheik Tiote away from Tyneside next month. The Magpies tied up the Côte d'Ivoire international midfielder on a new six-and-a-half-year contract early this year after an impressive start to his career in England.
Tiote has already been linked with Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, and Newcastle are bracing themselves for any approach when the transfer window opens next month. Pardew said: "He's a big target because he's a great player, and great players are going to be targets. We are always on our guard with Cheik 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, of course, spent much of last January insisting striker Andy Carroll was not for sale, only for Liverpool to make the Magpies a £35m offer they simply could not refuse. The manager knows a sizeable bid for Tiote or any other player - skipper Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Simpson are yet to agree new deals - could leave the club with another decision to make.
However, that offer would have to be significant and dwarf the £3.5m Newcastle paid FC Twente for the midfielder. Pardew said: "You never know with the window. It's such a minefield of possibilities.
"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. In terms of players coming in, there is certainly one player who will come in and we are hoping maybe two - if we don't lose anybody."
Sochaux striker Modibo Maiga is expected to join the club next month, although Pardew shed little light on that issue today.