Striker Cisse set for Newcastle exit

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

The striker did not travel to Portugal with his team-mates yesterday for the Magpies’ 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 it is understood that Newcastle 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, manager Alan Pardew needs some certainty in his pre-season planning, and 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 does not want to lose the Senegal international.

His top striking target is Darren Bent, who has been told he has no future at Aston Villa.

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

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

Up to now, Newcastle have made no public comment on Cisse’s situation, though a club source has insisted the striker was not stopped travelling to Portugal.

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

As such, Cisse, a £9million signing from German club Freiburg 18 months ago, 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.

The Professional Footballers Association have also been involved in the talks, as have Wonga. The payday lender - which offers short-term loans - has long drawn 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 said: “There’s nothing for us to say.”

Meanwhile, Massadio Haidara, Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson and Dan Gosling were also not in the Magpies’ 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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