independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Magpies ponder striking options

Darren Bent is one of a number of strikers reported to be on Newcastle's radar

Newcastle are monitoring a series of strikers as they attempt to rebuild their forward line.

The Magpies surged into fifth place at the end of the 2011-12 season after Papiss Cisse was drafted in during the January transfer window to partner Demba Ba in spectacular style.

However, Ba's departure for Chelsea 12 months later left Alan Pardew's men with a sizable gap to plug just as his Senegal international team-mate's form in front of goal deserted him.

Having survived his end-of-season meeting with owner Mike Ashley, Pardew embarked upon his summer break knowing the recruitment of at least one proven frontman was the main priority, and Joe Kinnear's subsequent and controversial arrival as director of football has done little to shift that focus.

Kinnear, who had already spoken to the manager, met chief scout Graham Carr last week to draw up a plan of attack and it is understood they have a series of names in their sights.

St Etienne's Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been close to the top of Newcastle's list for some time, although they are not alone in that respect and big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala's interest is a complication.

The Dagestan club, who were dumped out of last season's Europa League by the Magpies, have the financial power to spark a bidding war in which Ashley will not become involved, and can also offer the 24-year-old European football next season, something their English counterparts cannot.

Vitesse Arnhem's Wilfried Bony has also been on the Magpies' radar, although competition seems certain to drive his price-tag up, while they have also been linked with Marseille's Andre-Pierre Gignac - although at 28, his £12million valuation is one which simply does not fit into the Ashley model.

Newcastle are also maintaining an interest in Aston Villa's former Sunderland frontman Darren Bent, who is desperate for a way out of the Midlands club after finding himself sidelined by rising star Christian Benteke last season.

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