Cheick-in or Cheick-out?
Cheick Tiote returned to the Newcastle side on Saturday after his move to China collapsed, but should McClaren keep the Ivorian on Tyneside?
Tiote could still potentially exit the club, with the Chinese Super League transfer window remaining open until 25 February.
However, the centre midfielder made an impressive return against West Brom, and was arguably the man of the match. Tiote played a pivotal role in the clash against the Baggies, begging the question should he stay or should he go?
Many were unflustered in January when news broke that Tiote was set for a move to China, with the hard-hitting midfielder never really managing to return to the form he had when paired with Yohan Cabaye.
Cabaye and Tiote complemented each other perfectly.
Tiote was able to do what he did best, break up the play and shield the defence, leaving the playmaking duties to Cabaye. When Cabaye departed for PSG, it was as if the Tiote we’d known had left with him.
Newcastle’s number 24 became a shadow of his former self, and instead tried to imitate the departed Cabaye. Rather than breaking up play, Tiote would be found trying to ping killer passes right and left, normally out of touch.
A combination of lack of form and terrible injuries made Tiote the forgotten man at Newcastle, so much so that it was strange seeing him back on the pitch at the start of the season.
Against West Brom, Cheick Tiote was paired with Jonjo Shelvey for the first time, and it was as if the Tiote of old had returned. He had finally gotten over his break-up with Cabaye and could have potentially found a new partner in Shelvey.
Shelvey’s ability on the ball allowed Tiote to get back to what he does best, breaking up the play and giving the ball to the man who can make the difference in possession.
With the transfer window still open in China, there still remains a chance that Newcastle could lose him, which may be a more worrying prospect now than it appeared last month.
Due to the situation Newcastle find themselves in, with relegation still a strong possibility, Cheick Tiote must stay on Tyneside.
Newcastle need as many options as possible and Tiote offers something that the others do not. There is a strong chance that he can come out on top as he battles Henri Saivet and Jack Colback for the right to partner Shelvey in the heart of the midfield, and the balance that partnership gives us could guide the club to safety.
Come the summer, we can afford to let Tiote go if it suits both parties, but in this moment of time, it would be ludicrous to dispose of a player whose impact could be essential in the battle against relegation.
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