Newcastle United look set to lose out to Everton for Wigan Athletic striker Arouna Kone.
The Journal understands that talks between Kone and Everton, now managed by his former manager Roberto Martinez, are at an advanced stage with the 29-year-old ready to sign on at Goodison.
There was a twist in the tale yesterday when Newcastle were given permission to speak with the Ivory Coast international, who has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave the DW Stadium for £5million. But this move appears to be too little, too late.
Everton fear Wigan chairman Dave Whelan wants to start a bidding war between the Merseysiders and the Magpies for a player who scored 13 goals in his first season in English football, and was a stand-out in Wigan’s FA Cup Final win over Manchester City.
Whelan knows his team is going to break up now they are in the Championship and naturally wants to raise as much cash as possible for his best players. But for Newcastle to hijack the deal, they would need to push the boat out for the former PSV Eindhoven and Sevilla star in the fee and wages.
Konï¿½ is close to Martinez, the man who signed him last summer for £3m and all signs suggest Everton is his preferred destination.
This is further frustration for the United supporters who wanted to see at least one
addition to the first-team squad made before today, when the players begin their pre-season training. Alan Pardew is back at the club today, but director of football Joe Kinnear is now on holiday, although this doesn’t mean that no transfers can be made.
The general consensus is that at least four signings must arrive – providing no key men leave – and two of them have to be strikers.
Kone is a good player and while at 29 wouldn’t have any sell-on potential, a fee of £5m is a fair one for a striker that gave City such a hard time at Wembley in the Latics’ famous win. This is also the fee Newcastle would be willing to spend on Darren Bent and not the £8m Aston Villa appear still to be holding out for.
The club did make one signing yesterday when they completed the deal to secure midfielder Olivier Kemen, a 16-year-old France Under-17 international, who has joined from Metz.
As expected, United target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became a Borussia Dortmund player last night when he agreed a five-year deal with the German giants.
The Gabon international, 24, has joined the Champions League finalists from St Etienne on a five-year contract.
The fee was not disclosed.
“We are very happy to have signed the player we most wanted in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,” said sporting director Michael Zorc.
“He is very versatile in attack, plays at a high tempo and poses a goal threat.”
Aubameyang, who joined St Etienne in 2011, scored 19 goals in Ligue 1 last season.
Aubameyang’s arrival will increase speculation over the future of Robert Lewandowski, even though Dortmund have ruled out selling their star player this summer. The Pole has been denied his wish of a move to Bayern Munich this summer, but Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp expects his attitude to still be spot on next term.
“Lewandowski last season invested everything up until the final day in order to have maximum success,” he told a Press conference.
“He will also do that next year, because he is a footballer through and through. Nothing has happened, except that a player has said he would like to transfer somewhere else. We respect that there are such wishes. That is totally normal.”