MARSEILLE striker Loic Remy is in Newcastle's sights as they attempt to avoid a January transfer window scramble.
Press Association Sport understands the 25-year-old France international is a target as manager Alan Pardew steels himself for another month of uncertainty over current leading scorer Demba Ba.
The Magpies have played down previous links with the former Lyon, Lens and Nice forward, but with Ba yet to agree a new contract at St James' Park which would remove his infamous release clause, the club is understood to be ready to bolster the manager's attacking options.
Pardew has no desire to allow Senegal international Ba, who has 11 goals to his name so far this season, leave Tyneside, and the player himself has repeatedly spoken of his happiness at the club.
However, amid speculation that Arsenal, Chelsea and QPR among others could be ready to battle it out for his signature next month, his admission in an interview with a French TV company that the Gunners would be an attractive proposition added to the sense of unease.
Ba also acknowledged that rumours were inevitable because of the release clause, but there is a growing feeling on Tyneside that a striker who was touted around in August, when there were no takers, is being hawked around Europe once again.
The former Hoffenheim player's situation is complicated. A proposed move to Stoke fell through two years ago when a medical identified a knee problem and, having eventually opted to join West Ham - where he scored seven times in 12 appearances - he made a swift exit in the wake of their relegation and joined Newcastle on a free transfer.
The deal was structured to prevent the club taking a hit should major injury strike, but also to include the clause which could see him leave for £7.5million with the Magpies in line to receive only a fraction of the proceeds.
However, 15 goals during the first half of last season confirmed both Ba's potency and his durability and Newcastle have spent much of the time since attempting to negotiate out the release clause.
In the meantime, the club have no intention of finding themselves in the position they did two years ago when Andy Carroll left in a £35million switch to Liverpool during the final hours of the winter window with no time left to find a replacement.
Remy is a man who has been on Pardew's radar for some time, as have Lille defender Mathieu Debuchy and FC Twente's Douglas, and his interest in all three is understood to be ongoing.
There is little doubt that the squad needs strengthening after a lack of depth was exposed by injury, suspension and the demands of the Europa League.