NEWCASTLE United have opened negotiations with Crystal Palace over full-back target Nathaniel Clyne.
The Journal can reveal that United have contacted their South London counterparts to enquire about the England Under-21 man who is also interesting Manchester United and Ajax.
The discussions have not yet progressed to a firm bid for the 21-year-old right-back but, with his contract due to expire in two months, United are ready to formalise their interest.
Boss Alan Pardew is a particularly big fan of Clyne and has a good working relationship with bosses at Palace from his time working in London, which may help to sway any battle for the defender’s signature in their favour. With their extended fixture list next year, Newcastle can also offer more guarantees of first team football.
Newcastle want to boost their defensive options this summer and the club are intent on signing players who can play in a number of different positions.
While Clyne is primarily a right-back – which is Danny Simpson’s position – he can also play on the left of defence, which will help United as they look to fight on four fronts next season. United have also made contact with Coventry over their 18-year-old playmaker Gaël Bigirimana – while Lyon’s Aly Cissokho has reappeared on their radar as a possible target.
But the problem with their pursuit of Cissokho is that, while he
comes with the ringing endorsement of Newcastle’s scouting team, Pardew and his staff are not quite as sold on the France international.
That leaves them looking to Clyne, who is certain to be sold by Palace this summer. With his contract up at the end of July he will be free to move from Selhurst Park but, as he is under 23, the South London side will be due compensation if no fee is agreed.
It would be a risk to take the transfer to tribunal, but United would not want to pay anything near the £5million that has been quoted in certain reports. A compromise might suit both clubs, with Palace already having signed a replacement for the Londoner.
The Championship club’s co-chairman Steve Parish said: “We have long since resigned ourselves to Nathaniel wanting to go. It is just a matter of talking to those clubs interested in him and agreeing a fee.” It is understood that United’s interest in Clyne is not dependent on Simpson leaving – unlike their potential move for Mathieu Debuchy of Lille. The France defender is interesting Newcastle, but the club will push for a resolution on Simpson’s contract before moving on to sign other senior targets.
Newcastle were also offering no comment to the latest reports surrounding Demba Ba, which claimed the much-publicised clause in the striker’s contract is only valid until July 31. As reported by The Journal yesterday, Ba (pictured left) is the most vulnerable of the three United players attracting the most interest from top-flight rivals. Cheick Tioté and Yohan Cabaye both intend to stay, with Newcastle keen to open contract negotiations with the latter around the New Year if he continues to shine.
United, meanwhile, have been warned off Coventry’s teenage sensation Bigirimana by Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn – who thinks it would be too soon for him to leave the Ricoh Arena.
Bigirimana is contracted until June 2014 but United have reportedly offered £500,000 with a view to adding him to their development squad. Thorn does not want that, arguing that the Burundi-born prospect should be allowed to play more first-team games in League One with Coventry.
“Gaël’s a good talent, but he’s still got a heck of a lot to learn and I’d be really disappointed if he left,” Thorn said.