Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out a move for Loic Remy, as Newcastle United prepare to overhaul their forward line in the summer.
Of the centre-forwards the Magpies have at present, only Papiss Cisse and Adam Armstrong – still to make his full debut – are contracted for next season.
Remy and Luuk de Jong are on loan, while Shola Ameobi is out of contract at the end of the season. Ameobi looks likely to be offered a new deal but, having been restricted to 12 Premier League starts this term, there is no guarantee he will take it.
Either way, after ducking the issue for the last few transfer windows, Newcastle will need to buy some strikers this summer.
With 13 league goals, Remy has been a huge success this season but the threat of Arsenal luring him away cannot be discounted after Wenger’s guarded comments about the France international yesterday.
The Gunners are one of a number of leading clubs linked with Remy, and have the added bonus that they are located in London – like the 27-year-old’s parent club Queens Park Rangers.
Given the opportunity to end such speculation yesterday, Wenger pointedly refused to.
“He is a good striker but at the moment we are focused on our end of season, not on transfers,” was his evasive reply when asked about a player his side can expect to come up against in Monday’s televised game at Ashburton Grove.
Remy is likely to have summer offers from a number of Champions League clubs, and it would be a major surprise if he did not take one of them. He has made just three appearances since the transfer window closed in January – scoring in both games he started – and Newcastle’s problems without him have been marked. They have scored in just one of the nine league matches he has missed this season.
Remy was eased back from the bench at home to Swansea City last week, but having come through the game unscathed after an earlier than expected introduction – he came on after 40 minutes – he is set to start in London on Monday.
Newcastle will need him with Cisse ruled out for the rest of the season and possibly pre-season with a knee injury, while De Jong twisted his ankle at the weekend.
The Dutch striker is yet to score for the Magpies, making the much easier prospect of turning his loan from Borussia Moenchengladbach into a permanent move far less appetising.
Around 12 months ago Pardew admitted he was expecting Ameobi to leave Tyneside, and with his contract soon to expire, he could walk away for free at the end of the season.
The manager is keen to retain his experience – perhaps by including a coaching role as part of the offer to stay – but Ameobi is playing hard to get.
“We will discuss everything about my future at the end of the season,” he said this week.
“I haven’t really thought about what might or mightn’t happen as yet because this is not the right moment.”
Pardew went public last summer about the need to sign a couple of strikers, but the long-mooted loan of Remy from relegated QPR was all Joe Kinnear was able to deliver.
Pardew promoted Armstrong into the first-team squad recently, but the 17-year-old is still finding his way in senior football.
Moussa Sissoko has returned to training after three weeks out with a hamstring injury.
For the first time since headbutting Hull City’s David Meyler on March 1, Pardew will be allowed on the touchline after the expiration of his ban.