NEWCASTLE United manager Alan Pardew will urge Joe Kinnear to make Darren Bent the Magpies’ first senior summer signing when the director of football returns from holiday on Monday.
While the rest of the Premier League has been busy adding to their squads this summer, Newcastle’s only addition to date has been 16-year-old midfielder Olivier Kemen.
But Pardew has still not given up hope of having a new face on board in time for the pre-season tour to Portugal. They leave on Wednesday.
It might be an optimistic deadline, but the manager is still hoping it can be achieved. In his favour is the fact that Bent is keen to come, and Aston Villa are willing to sell.
The striker became Villa’s record signing when he joined from Sunderland in January 2011 for an initial ï¿½18m.
Manager Paul Lambert has made it abundantly clear Bent is not a part of his plans. He is one of a clutch of senior players told to train on his own. Villa are ready to reduce their asking price to ï¿½6m just to get Bent off the wage bill.
Pardew and Bent worked together at Charlton Athletic, and their mutual admiration has endured since.
Bent is also fond of the North East after his time with Sunderland, and would therefore welcome a move to Tyneside, and he needs regular football having dropped out of the England picture, particularly with a World Cup in Brazil next summer.
Organising transfers is Kinnear’s role in Newcastle’s revamped hierarchy but he has been away this week on a family holiday booked before his controversial appointment as Pardew’s boss last month.
Pardew confirmed to The Journal on Tuesday that Bent and Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy are two of the “four or five” strikers he is targeting this summer.
Pardew feels he needs two strikers to provide support to, and competition for, Papiss Cisse, who was more or less guaranteed his place in the side after Demba Ba’s January move to Chelsea.
Ba’s departure left Shola Ameobi as the only other out-and-out centre-forward left at the club although Yoan Gouffran, who was used wide in a front three during his first six months at St James’ Park, can also play there. Pardew has admitted Ameobi, who has a year of his contract still to run, could move on in this transfer window.
That Ameobi has made himself available for international duty once more suggests his importance to the club will be diminished next season.
The 31-year-old was controversially withdrawn from Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations squad in January, amid claims a clause in his contract prevented him playing for the Super Eagles without his club’s blessing. Such a clause would be contrary to Fifa regulations. Now, though, Nigeria are said to be considering him for an August friendly against South Africa.
“He’s been dealing with this for a while and I’m happy it (the alleged clause in his contract) has been removed,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi told the BBC.
“Just as we were giving up on him, he called to give us the good news.”
Ameobi made his international debut in a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela in Miami in November, but the after the to-ing and fro-ing over his Cup of Nations selection, it appeared his international career might be over before it had properly got going. “I’ve always admired Ameobi’s wealth of experience and I respect his personality - for him to make himself available is fantastic,” added Keshi.
“I would love to have all my strikers available and Ameobi, Emmanuel Emenike, Brown Ideye and Victor Anichebe are all fantastic players.
“When we start selecting the squad to face Malawi (in September’s World Cup qualifier), to have someone like Ameobi available is excellent for us.”