NEWCASTLE United manager Alan Pardew will fight to keep hold of midfield enforcer Cheik Tiote.
It emerged yesterday that Newcastle had knocked back a bid for the Ivory Coast international from Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow.
Lokomotiv tabled an offer for Tiote several weeks ago which was dismissed as “derisory” and have not returned since.
However, rumours of his impending departure have been rife in recent weeks and he has been unsettled by speculation linking him with, at different times, cash-rich Russian clubs and, at home, Arsenal.
Newcastle value Tiote at about £8million, having bought him for around £3.5m from Dutch side FC Twente in 2010.
The 28-year-old still has three years left on his contract and Pardew sees him as a key player as he looks to remodel his side.
The Toon boss appointed Tiote vice-captain in pre-season, along with new boy Siem de Jong, having been impressed with his leadership in Fabricio Coloccini’s absence last season.
Tiote skippered Newcastle in his only pre-season appearance at Sheffield Wednesday and afterwards spoke of his hopes for the season.
“The squad looks stronger than it was last year,” he said.
“Hopefully, we will do well on the pitch this season – better than last season.
“I think it (the vice-captaincy) is good for me, and I hope I will help the team have a good season.”
As with all Newcastle players, owner Mike Ashley will consider any bid for Tiote, though it is understood Lokomotiv’s offer was less than half the value United have of the player.
Tiote is likely to miss Saturday’s game at Aston Villa with a hamstring injury, having sat out the opener against Manchester City and is set to miss the Gillingham Capital One Cup clash.
However, Pardew hopes he will be fit for the home game against Crystal Palace next weekend.