Newcastle United have been credited with an interest in Werder Bremen playmaker Aaron Hunt, according to sources in Germany.
The German international’s contract expires in the summer. And though Bremen are keen to retain their longest-serving player, Hunt has told them he will deliver a decision on his future in February or March.
That would appear to rule out a cut-price move by Newcastle during January, in keeping with acknowledgement at a fans’ forum on Monday that the club may not do any incoming business while the transfer window is open. Alan Pardew, also, has stressed that United may be content with a quiet January.
But Hunt could sign a pre-contract agreement with the Magpies, with a view to a free transfer come the end of the season.
At 27, the player does not quite fit the profile Newcastle have constructed for recent transfer targets.
However, with Montpellier midfielder Remy Cabella this week suggesting he may be happy to stay with the French club, United may be forced to be flexible with their plans.
Fearing the departure of Yohan Cabaye in the summer, they are keen to bolster their creative options.
Hunt – German-born to an English mother with family in London but roots in the North East – is an attacking midfielder who can also operate in wide positions.
But while he insists he has received no direct contact from potential suitors and has yet to decide his next step, The Journal understands Newcastle could face competition for the player from Stoke City and Southampton. “So far there have been no calls, not even with other clubs,” he said. “The end of January, beginning of February, it will be more specific. If Werder are pushing for a quick decision, I would be set quickly.
“It is then decided in February or March if I renew with the club or leave.
“That someone is at a club for so long hardly happens. I am glad that they (Bremen) appreciate me so.
“I do not say that by no means will I leave the Bundesliga. But when it comes to change, I would appeal to more foreign countries. Bremen’s sporting director Thomas Gauge added: “After the (winter break) training camp, we will accelerate the talks. We want to know in February where we are headed.” Despite suggestions at Monday’s forum that Newcastle may keep their powder dry during January, the club’s scouting network remains fully operational.
Though United are not alone in having cooled their interest in Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis after it emerged that his agent is demanding a £1 million fee to handle any deal, they continue to be linked with Borussia Monchengladbach forward Luuk De Jong. West Brom’s Shane Long is thought to be another target.
And after reports in France claimed Newcastle are keeping check on Lyon midfielder Gueida Fofana and Sochaux striker Cedric Bakambu, The Journal understands chief scout Graham Carr is eager for a deal to be completed for the former, a France Under-21 international, before his value increases at the end of the season.
The 22-year-old is a defensive midfielder currently rated at around £5 million, but with Lyon keen to offer the player a new contract and the likes of Marseille and Bundesliga side Stuttgart also weighing up a move, his price could double in the summer.
Meanwhile, United midfielder Conor Newton’s loan spell at St Mirren has been extended until the end of the season.
The 22-year-old spent the first half of the campaign with the Buddies, scoring three goals in 22 appearances.