Crystal Palace have emerged as serious rivals to sign Newcastle United target Darren Bent.
Manager Alan Pardew is keen to add another striker and more English players to his Magpies squad this summer. Bent ticks both boxes.
Pardew is a long-time admirer of the striker, having worked with him at Charlton Athletic, and Bent is fond of the North East after his spell with Sunderland.
Aston Villa are keen to take their £18m signing off the wage bill and Newcastle are eager to buy, but director of football Joe Kinnear has found it difficult to strike a deal. So too have fellow suitors Fulham.
So newly-promoted Palace have moved in to offer the striker the chance to move to Selhurst Park.
The Eagles are offering a season-long loan with the option to buy at the end of it to protect them against the possibility of relegation.
Villa would prefer to sell a player who has no part in manager Paul Lambert’s future plans, but with nearly £7m owed to the 29-year-old over the next two years anything that gets him off the wage bill will have to be considered.
Newcastle, who are thought to have had a £2m bid rejected, will now have to consider whether to rival Palace’s offer or risk losing out on the player.
They have already signed one striker – Queens Park Rangers’ Loic Remy – on loan and Premier League clubs are only allowed to borrow three players a season from English clubs.
Another rule Newcastle need to be conscious of states sides must name at least eight players in their 25-man squads who have come through the academies of English (or Welsh) clubs. At present Newcastle have only 13 senior players who meet that criteria after losing James Perch, Danny Simpson and Steve Harper this summer.
Of the 13, Ryan Taylor is unlikely to play in the coming season and therefore might not be registered for its first half, while Shola Ameobi, Dan Gosling and Mike Williamson could leave if decent offers come in for them before the transfer window closes on September 2.
Even if Newcastle are able to meet the rules, the worry is that after the influx of so many players from France in January, their starting XI could be dangerously light on Premier League experience in the coming months.
Williamson’s future could be in doubt if Newcastle’s reported interest in Belgian central defender Toby Alderweireld comes to fruition.
The Magpies are long-time admirers of the Ajax player and interest from Everton, Norwich City and Spartak Moscow in the £5m-rated 24-year-old could mean they have to act soon or risk missing out altogether.
Of greater concern are reports of a £15.5m bid from Paris Saint-Germain for Yohan Cabaye. Pardew is anxious to keep his playmaker, a key figure in integrating the French imports, but is braced for a big offer for him.
Newcastle know interest from a Champions League club will be hard for Cabaye to resist, particularly in a World Cup year, but will want the matter resolved soon.
As he showed last season, a distracted Cabaye is a shadow of the player who performed so well in his debut season on Tyneside, and the later in the transfer window Newcastle receive a fee, the harder they will find spending it.
Kinnear has already come under pressure this summer for failing to buy a single senior player despite a budget of around ï¿½20m. So far the club’s only additions have been development player Olivier Kemen and loanee Remy.
Meanwhile, Crewe Alexandra are considering a fourth and final bid for Brad Inman. The midfielder, on loan with the Railwaymen last summer, has been released by Newcastle.
But because he is 21, the clubs must agree a fee or go to a tribunal, whose decision would be binding.
Crewe have had three offers turned down and in going to a tribunal risk being told to pay a fee that is beyond their means.