ALAN Pardew last night confirmed he is set to make an official bid for Bafetimbi Gomis as Newcastle United emerged as heavy favourites to sign the Lyon striker.
The Newcastle manager spoke of the “great potential” of the 27-year-old, who is available for a knockdown price of no more than ï¿½5million after his club told him he could leave with a year left on his contract.
However, this does not mean Pardew has given up on Darren Bent because his plan remains to add two more strikers to his current squad, even if Papiss Cisse remains on Tyneside.
The powerful Gomis, whose nickname is Baby Drogba after the former Chelsea star, is also wanted by Aston Villa and has been linked with Swansea City.
However, Newcastle are in first place in the race to land a player who has been in their sights for some time.
Speaking at the club’s Portuguese training camp at Braga, Pardew said: “I can confirm we have expressed an interest in Gomis. We think he is a player who has great potential.
“It’s a market we know well and he’s a player we know well.
“He is a French international who has played at the highest level for his club and we’re pursuing it.”
When asked directly if there had been any movement on Bent, Pardew added: “As I’ve said before, it’s two strikers we are going to need.
“We have a good squad, but that’s the one area where we need to strengthen.”
Pardew has been heartened by having all his key men on the training pitch this pre-season – which hardly happened at all last season – so he is keen to add to what he believes is a superb squad of players.
He said: “You can sense that presence (of the first-team stars) on the training ground.
“We filled it in January and, again, unfortunately we had injuries at the back end of last year, but I always sensed with everybody back we had a good side and we have the finance to build on that.
“We’re hoping to get a striker or maybe two strikers in before the season kicks off.”
This is all much-needed encouraging news for Newcastle fans. Lyon president
Jean-Michel Aulas decided to publicly speak of Newcastle’s interest in Gomis, which goes back to 2008 when Kevin Keegan pinpointed the player as someone he wanted to sign.
Aulas is keen to offload a player whose time at the French club has come to an end after a fall-out with the president.
Gomis only last month said he would only move if he felt that it would benefit his career.
He said: “If I can’t find a club which could offer me the guarantees I am expecting, which has the ambition I am looking for, I will stay. I will be ready to help the team.
“I will work to be ready to help if they call me. However, nobody will force me to go where I don’t want to go - that is for sure.
“I am still at Lyon, and I am far from having already left.” Gomis’ best season came in the 2011-12 campaign when he scored 25 times for Lyon, and he managed 20 last time out.
At 27, he should be about to enter his peak years. He has scored three goals in his ten appearances for the French national side.
Newcastle take on Portuguese top-flight side Rio Ave today when Pardew will field the same team which started the friendly fixture against Motherwell on Tuesday.
However, there is the possibility some of his international players could get a run out.
Massadio Haidara (pictured right) is heading out to Braga this afternoon, having stayed at home for treatment on an injury.
NEWCASTLE United will travel to Ibrox for a pre-season friendly against Rangers on Tuesday, August 6, kick-off 7.45pm.