Newcastle United have been blessed with some exceptional strikers over the years as fans have enjoyed the likes of Les Ferdinand, Papiss Cisse, Callum Wilson and, of course, Alan Shearer.
The Magpies faithful have seen their fair share of clinical goalscorers over the years and they will be hoping that summer signing Alexander Isak, who joined from Spanish side Real Sociedad, will be the next cult hero for the club in that position.
Dan Ashworth splashed out a club-record transfer fee of £63m to snap up the Sweden international but money does not guarantee success, as Newcastle have found out over the years with bargain signings and expensive flops.
Pardew heaped praise on the striker’s instincts at the time of the move, saying: “He’s a player that has a natural eye for a goal, my connections at West Ham are very good and I know everything about him.”
The forward had failed medicals with Stoke and Stuttgart and it was reported that there were doubts over whether or not Newcastle would go through with a deal due to concerns over a long-term knee injury.
Instead of backing out of the transfer due to potential injury complications, Pardew decided to go through with the signing and the English manager’s decision paid dividends with that call as Ba went on to be a terrific player for the club.
In his first season on Tyneside, the Senegal international plundered 16 goals and four assists in 36 Premier League outings. He followed that up with an impressive 13 goals and four assists in 20 top-flight appearances in the first half of the 2012/13 campaign, which attracted interest from Chelsea.
The Blues activated the attacker’s £7m release clause and snatched him away from the Magpies after 18 months of the supporters enjoying his performances up front.
Former Chelsea TV journalist Jake Heasman once described him as a “lethal” forward who “bangs in goals” at the time of his move to Stamford Bridge in 2013 and his aforementioned statistics at St. James’ Park back that up.
Whilst it was far from ideal for Newcastle to lose Ba midway through a season for £7m, Pardew played a blinder with the attacker as the club made a £7m profit off a free transfer and received a year and a half of outstanding performances after initially doubting whether to bring him to the north east.
Their gamble paid off both in terms of the financial and footballing benefits it brought and the now-retired marksman should be looked back on fondly by supporters.