One to Watch - Demba Ba
Demba Ba is the One to Watch ahead of this weekend's clash with Newcastle United this weekend.
NAME: DEMBA BA
DATE OF BIRTH: 25/05/1985 (Sèvres, France)
APPEARANCES (GOALS): 17 (11)
FORMER CLUBS: FC Rouen, RE Mouscron, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, West Ham United.
The Senegalese international has already notched 11 times this season, and has been the inspriation behind Alan Pardew's surprising Newcastle revival.
There was a time however that the forward found himself without a club, touting himself to the likes Watford and Barnsley with little reward - leading him to move to FC Rouen in 2005.
Ba kick-started his career by netting a stunning 22 goals in 26 games - thus proving himself a highly sought-after talent which had Belgian outfit RE Mouscron.
His move was blighted by a broken leg that kept him out of action for eight months - but didn't stop him from returning in April 2007 to strike seven goals in nine games.
This prompted the resurgent TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to part with 3m euros for his services. It was money well-spent as they achieved promotion to the Bundesliga with the help of some Ba inspiration.
37 goals in 97 games for the German outfit saw them not only promoted, but also finish seventh in their maiden season in Germany's elite league - the good times were sadly to turn sour for Ba.
After a failed move to VfB Stuttgart, owing to a medical, Ba expressed his desire to move to England - a country where he had failed to impress previously on trials with Watford and Barnsley.
He raised the ire of Hoffenheim chiefs who accused the Senegalese international of trying to engineer his own move away from the club, and claimed they would pursue the forward for legal costs.
A proposed move to Stoke City fell through, again for medical reasons shrouded in mystery with a reported £7.1m riding on the deal - but where the Potters opted against, West Ham were contented.
The Hammers signed Ba for an undisclosed fee and despite scoring seven goals in ten games, they were relegated and the forward was free to leave, invoking a release clause in his contract.
He eventually signed a three-year deal with Newcastle United, despite interest from Everton, and went on to be the driving force in their sensational top-flight campaign.
An 11 match unbeaten start helped the Geordies finish fifth and quality for the Europa League - Ba's 16 goals, predominantly scored in the first half of the campaign - was a definitive contributing factor.
Already this season Ba has displayed his prowess where others, such as Pappis Cissé, have been lacking - notching 11 goals in 17 league appearances.