New Newcastle United boss Steve McClaren will make Cheick Tiote’s future his top priority when he is named as head coach this week.
Former Middlesbrough, manager McClaren flies back into England in the next 24 hours and will resume talks with Magpies managing director Lee Charnley over the head coach position.
Cheick’s a physical player but very fairSteve McClaren
There are believed to be a number of minor issues to sort out, including the make-up of his backroom staff, before McClaren pens a four-year deal.
And one of his first ports of call on his appointment will be midfielder Tiote, whom he worked with at Twente.
The Ivory Coast star has two years left on his Newcastle contract and had been heavily tipped to move this summer.
Lokomotiv Moscow, Arsenal and West Ham have all been linked with the midfielder, who turns 29 in a fortnight.
Tiote and his advisers are understood to want one last big contract and with his poor disciplinary and injury record – he has not played since February because of a knee injury, and made just 12 appearances last term – the Magpies were understood to be willing to cash in on him.
However, the arrival of McClaren has prompted a rethink. Tiote played a key role under McClaren as Twente won the Dutch title for the first time in their history in 2010, prompting his move to Newcastle for £3.5million a couple of months later.
McClaren enthused over the midfield enforcer.
“He’ll be a big favourite at Newcastle – the fans should take to him straight away,” he said at the time.
“Cheick’s a physical player, but also very fair. He’s got a good engine, and could prove a real hit at Newcastle. He’ll be ideal for them, especially in away games when he can sit in front of the back four.”
Tiote impressed in his first couple of seasons at Newcastle, prompting talk of a £20million move to Chelsea.
However, his form has since dipped, and McClaren must quickly decide whether he can get the Ivorian back to his best, or cash in on him.