CHEIK Tiote has insisted he’s at Newcastle United for the long haul – despite interest in him from the Premier League’s big guns.
Manchester United are among the clubs reportedly monitoring the midfielder ahead of the summer’s transfer window.
Tiote, who scored a stunning equaliser against Arsenal in Saturday’s 4-4 draw at St James’s Park, has been sensational since his move from FC Twente last year.
And some fans fear Newcastle will struggle to hold on to the tough-tackling 24-year-old, who is set to be offered an improved contract by the club in the summer to recognise his remarkable form over the past few months.
For his part, the Ivory Coast international insists he’s only focused on making a success of his career at United.
Asked if he would be at St Jame’s Park for a long time, Tiote told the Mail: “I hope so.
“We have to work together if we want to go forward. We have to work as a team - it’s not only about one player.
“I think Newcastle have many good players, and if we work together, it will be a good future.
“Before I was in Holland, and I was happy to play in the English league. I was waiting for the opportunity, and it was ready.
“I am trying to prove to everyone what I can do. I’m happy. I’m enjoying it at Newcastle, and I have to keep working.”
Manager Alan Pardew, meanwhile, will have been relieved to see Tiote come through last night’s friendly between Ivory Coast and Mali in Valance, France.
The ill-tempered game – won 1-0 by Tiote and his colleagues – saw two players stretchered off, and was stopped briefly 12 mintues from the final whistle after a fight broke out between players.
Meanwhile, defender James Tavernier has had his loan at Gateshead extended by another two months.
However, midfielder Joan Edmundsson has returned to St James’s Park after picking up an injury.
Tavernier, 19, will stay at the International Stadium until April 9, having impressed Gateshead manager Ian Bogie.
“Tavernier has pace to burn, and has been an integral part of our success over the past few weeks,” said Bogie.
Edmundsson sat out the club’s last game, and Bogie said: “Edmundsson missed the last game of his loan spell due to injury, and has returned to Newcastle.”