NEWCASTLE United’s search for a big-name striker to replace Andy Carroll is set to go on, with targets Mevlut Erdinc and Gervinho poised to move elsewhere.
The Magpies considered both to revamp their forward line, but appear to have been outmuscled by bigger clubs.
Carroll left his local club for Liverpool in a sensational £30m move late on January’s deadline day.
There was much debate as to whether the transfer represented good business for the Magpies, and for those who said it was to be proven right, the money will have to be wisely reinvested.
Unable to land a replacement at the 11th hour, Newcastle successfully muddled through until the end of the season.
Leon Best dramatically kick-started his Tyneside career with six goals, and there were contributions from Peter Lovenkrands and the injury-prone Shola Ameobi.
But none truly convinced – as shown by the fact manager Alan Pardew has since put Best up for sale, along with fellow striker Nile Ranger.
Newcastle will no longer be able to rely on the top-scoring English midfielder in last season’s Premier League either, with Kevin Nolan surprisingly sold to West Ham United.
Nolan was the Magpies’ top-scorer last term, albeit only two of his goals came after Carroll’s departure.
Having landed Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux and Mehdi Abeid (whose transfer is expected to be confirmed tomorrow) at minimal expense, Pardew hopes to supplement them with a more high-profile addition to excite or appease the supporters.
Newcastle had a £10m bid accepted for Kevin Gameiro, but lost out when the L’orient striker joined Paris Saint Germain.
They had hoped to land Erdnic from as an expensive consolation prize, with the Turkish international expected to lose his place to Gameiro.
But it has now emerged that PSG have offered the 25-year-old as a makeweight in their latest ambitious offer. The Parisians have benefited from a massive infusion of Qatari cash, and do not seem prepared to let it burn a hole in their pockets.
Their latest target is Lille’s highly-rated playmaker Eden Hazard.
Reports in France claim they have offered £27m plus Erdnic and although Lille are determined to hold onto the Belgian, PSG would now seem to have the resources to break that resolve.
United’s scouts saw plenty of Hazard’s club-mate Gervinho, an Ivory Coast team-mate of Cheick Tiote, last season. But the winger-cum-centre-forward is expected to join Arsenal for around £10m.
Newcastle also watched 18-year-old Connor Wickham but, like a host of other clubs, declined to be drawn into a bidding war for such a young player, and watched him join neighbours Sunderland yesterday.
Although Ba continued an impressive career goalscoring record at relegated West Ham last season – with seven in 12 appearances – Pardew will know he is no more likely to get 38 games out of the Senegalese next season than he is Ameobi.
While rumours Ba failed a St James’ Park medical were swiftly rebutted, it is well known he did so at Stoke City as recently as January. Ameobi made 28 league appearances last season and his record of 236 from an 11-year career is hardly encouraging.
Newcastle have also put their interest in Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge on the backburner, although in reality they may have little alternative.
The England Under-21 impresses greatly in a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers earlier this season – not least when playing at St James’ Park.
New Blues boss Andres Villa-Boas will therefore have to decide if the Manchester City product is part of his immediate plans at Stamford Bridge, or whether he should be loaned out for more experience.
That decision is unlikely to be made until the Portuguese has had chance to see Sturridge in pre-season.