LONDON, Jan 2: Newcastle United have given European champions Chelsea permission to hold transfer talks with 27-year-old Senegal striker Demba Ba.

“Chelsea have made an official offer for Demba Ba which has triggered the release clause in the player’s contract,” Newcastle said on their website on Wednesday.

“The club have given the player permission to speak to Chelsea and therefore he will not be included in the squad for tonight’s (league) game against Everton.”

Newcastle, who are sixth from bottom in the table, did not give details of the release clause but media reports suggest it is around 7 million pounds ($11.38 million). Ba has been a major success at St James’ Park, scoring 16 league goals in his debut season and taking his total for the current campaign to 13 with a brace in the 7-3 loss at Arsenal on Saturday.

The Senegalese frontman made his name during a prolific four-year spell with German club Hoffenheim and joined English side West Ham United in January 2011 after a proposed move to Stoke City collapsed due to a failed medical examination.

He scored seven goals in 12 games for West Ham but left to join Newcastle after the London club were relegated at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Chelsea are desperate for backup in attack for Spanish international Fernando Torres who is the London team’s most-used outfield player this season after the London club sold Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool on Wednesday.—Agencies

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