Toon fear Tiote exit

Newcastle director admits keeping star midfielder may be difficult

Cheick Tiote: The Newcastle midfielder has made 16 appearances for the high-flying Magpies this season

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Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias admits he fears losing star midfielder Cheick Tiote this summer.

The Ivory Coast international has been a key component in the Magpies' rise up the Premier League table this season.

He has made 16 appearances in the league, missing a month due to the African Cup of Nations, and has witnessed only two defeats all season.

The 25-year-old has a growing reputation in English football since moving from Dutch side FC Twente in 2010.

Despite being contracted until 2017, Llambias understands that the North East club could find it difficult to retain the midfielder beyond the current campaign if a big-money offer was tabled.

Regenerated

He said: "We'll be losing one or two names this summer, but that'll be regenerated back into the squad.

"For instance, Tiote has been with us a year and a half. He is out there. People know he's a good player.

"He's proven in the Premier League, he's not picking up as many yellow cards, he's learning.

"How are we going to stop a big club from coming in for him? It'll be very hard."

Derek Llambias

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"How are we going to stop a big club from coming in for him? It'll be very hard.

"One thing in our favour is that we now have a very good side and that might encourage the player to stay.

"But if someone knocks on the door and says they want this or that money, the reality may be that we have to trade."

Targets

Meanwhile, Llambias has revealed that Newcastle are in a strong position when it comes to negotiating a deal for future players.

The Toon have surprised many this season and are well placed to qualify for a place in Europe at the end of the season.

They are currently sixth, two points behind Chelsea, and Llambias is confident that the club can sign their transfer targets for next season.

He said: "We have targets for the summer, and we're not in a position of having to beg.

"People are saying, 'Ah Newcastle. Of course we want to talk to you'. We do a brilliant video presentation - very sharp, it is great - and it opens eye to what the club, the fans and the city are all about."