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Ba close to sealing move to Chelsea from Newcastle

Photo: Scott Heppell/AP

Demba Ba ranks second to Robin van Persie in Premier League goals.

Chelsea was close to finalizing a deal to sign striker Demba Ba from Newcastle on the same day Daniel Sturridge was sold to Liverpool.

Chelsea has been looking to add him to its forward options with the 27-year-old Ba scoring 13 goals this season to put him among the English Premier League's most prolific players.

Ba is halfway through a three-year Newcastle contract but Chelsea activated a release clause of 7.5 million pounds ($12.2 million) and was given permission to speak to the Senegal forward.

While the personal terms are yet to be completed with Chelsea, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has no doubt Ba will move to London.

"It's done. He will go to Chelsea with our blessing,'' Pardew told Sky Sports TV on Wednesday. "He has done fantastic for us and it's not a bad thing, all the uncertainty is now done and we can move on.''

Ba's hopes of playing in England came close to collapsing in January 2011 when he failed a medical examination at Stoke because of knee problems.

But West Ham decided to sign Ba from German club Hoffenheim and he spent six months at Upton Park before switching to Newcastle in June 2011 after the Hammers were relegated.

Ba has scored 36 Premier League goals in two years, more than twice as many as potential new Chelsea teammate Fernando Torres in the same time period.

The Spain striker joined Chelsea in January 2011 as Ba was arriving at West Ham and has scored just 14 league goals since then.

Despite Torres rediscovering his scoring touch since compatriot Rafa Benitez took charge of Chelsea in November, his game time could be curtailed if Ba successfully negotiates personal terms.

Torres has started all 20 league matches so far this season, but failed to score in a 1-0 loss to Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday that left Chelsea fourth, 14 points behind leader Manchester United with one game in hand.

"We are trying to manage the team so when I can change Fernando I will do it,'' Benitez said. "We will try to manage him and hopefully we can do things properly.

"He wants the team winning games and he understands that is the way, so he will accept this.''

Chelsea offloaded its first player in the January transfer window when Sturridge completed his move to Liverpool after less than three years at Stamford Bridge.

The England striker, who also appeared for Britain at the London Olympics, has made just seven league appearances this season.

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