Chelsea are confident of agreeing personal terms with Demba Ba and completing the £7m signing of the striker on Thursday, the Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew, having said on Wednesday night it "was a done deal".
Rafael Benítez, the Chelsea manager, was more cautious but confirmed that he hopes to have the Senegalese striker available for the game against Southampton this weekend. "I don't have any official information," Benítez said after the home defeat by Queens Park Rangers. "I know that Alan Pardew is talking but officially he is not our player, so I cannot say too much. The club is working [on it]. If we can do the business, I hope he can be available for Southampton [on Saturday] but I cannot say too much. All I can say is that at the moment we are short of strikers."
Newcastle lost 2-1 to Everton on Wednesday night, their ninth defeat in 11 games, and before the game, from which Ba was omitted, Pardew admitted defeat in his attempts to keep Ba at the club: "It's done," he said. "He will go to Chelsea with our blessing. 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.
"When I signed him there weren't a queue of people wanting him; the clause made sense for us and Demba at the time. The deal [with Chelsea] has all been fair and straightforward."
Chelsea, however, will insist on Ba taking a medical at the club. The Senegal striker did not undergo the procedure before he joined Newcastle in the summer of 2011 due to the condition of his left knee and he had failed a medical in January of that year, before a proposed transfer to Stoke City, when the joint was thoroughly examined. Instead he joined West Ham United in the same winter window.
The chronic problem did not stop him from training fully at Newcastle nor impressing with his pace, power and goals. He scored 29 times in 51 Premier League starts and was a fans' favourite before his sudden desire to defect to London.
Chelsea met Ba's people on Sunday night and they were told that the 27-year-old wanted a long-term contract worth £90,000 a week. It is unclear as yet whether Chelsea have met the demand or how the payment will be structured – Ba's contract at Newcastle was heavily incentivised – but there was the belief at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night that nothing should stand in the way of the deal being finalised – not even the seven-figure fees the agents have sought.
Chelsea went to Newcastle on Wednesday with the bid that triggered the buy-out clause in Ba's contract, and which the club were powerless to resist.
There may be more arrivals at Chelsea in January with unconfirmed reports that Micah Richards was at Stamford Bridge last night, sparking speculation that Benítez may try to sign the Manchester City defender.
Ba's likely arrival at Stamford Bridge, meanwhile, coincides with Daniel Sturridge's departure after the striker completed his long-awaited £12m move to Liverpool on a long-term contract.