Is Papiss Demba Cisse’s career at Newcastle United over as Wonga row rumbles on?

TURN AROUND ... Papiss Demba Cisse
TURN AROUND ... Papiss Demba Cisse

PAPISS Demba Cisse’s career at Newcastle United looks to be coming to an end.

The striker didn’t travel to Portugal with his team-mates yesterday for the club’s pre-season tour.

Long-running talks over Cisse’s religious objections to wearing a Wonga-branded shirt and training gear have so far failed to find a solution.

And SportMail understands the club and Cisse remain some way apart.

The 28-year-old has offered to wear an unbranded jersey – or one bearing the logo of a charity.

But Newcastle’s position is that all players must wear the club’s branded kit.

With the start of the new Premier League season just over a month away, United manager Alan Pardew needs some certainty in his pre-season planning so Cisse’s days at St James’s Park look numbered.

Pardew was already looking to sign two strikers before the Cisse talks became deadlocked and he doesn’t want to lose the Senegal international.

Cisse’s exit would leave the club needing to sign an additional forward.

Pardew’s primary striking target is Darren Bent, who has been told he has no future at Aston Villa.

With the club yet to make a summer signing, supporters are becoming increasingly concerned at the scale of the rebuilding that is yet to be done over the coming six weeks.

Cisse’s departure would only exacerbate the challenges faced by the Newcastle off the field.

The Cisse issue has divided opinion among fans, with some supporting Cisse’s stand. Others have backed the club.

However, many supporters have been asking why the issue has only now come to a head given that Wonga were announced as Newcastle’s new sponsors in October last year.

Up to now, United have made no public comment on Cisse’s situation, though a club source has insisted Cisse wasn’t stopped from travelling to Portugal.

However, contractually, every United player must wear the team’s branded kit.

As such, Cisse, signed from German club Freiburg in January for £9million last January, was given the option of staying behind on Tyneside and training at the club’s Benton base pending more discussions.

It looks increasingly unlikely that a compromise will be found, despite Pardew’s keenness to keep Cisse at St James’s Park.

The Professional Footballers Association have also been involved in the talks, as have Wonga. The payday lender – which offers short-term loans – has long attarcted criticism for its high interest rates.

Cisse’s objection stems from his faith, with Islam forbiding the lending of money for interest.

Wonga refused to comment on the Cisse situation. A spokesman told SportMail: “There’s nothing for us to say.”

Meanwhile, Massadio Haidara, Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson and Dan Gosling were also not in the club’s 23-man tour squad.

Ferguson is expected to rejoin Birmingham City on loan, while Gosling is the subject of interest from Crystal Palace.

United, who will be based at Portuguese side Braga’s training complex, face Rio Ave on Saturday and Pacos de Ferreira on Tuesday.

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