Liverpool striker Andy Carroll's transfer options are narrowing after his former club Newcastle United appeared to rule themselves out of re-entering the race for his signature.
Carroll was the subject of a £15m bid from West Ham following the end of his season's loan at Upton Park, and as he mulls over making that deal permanent it is understood he would welcome a return to St James' Park.
That avenue is closed unless Newcastle match West Ham's offer for the England international, but the indications are they are no longer interested in the 24-year-old. Newcastle sold the striker for £35m in January 2011 and attempted to re-sign him on loan last summer in what became one of the most enduring transfer sagas.
It was anticipated they would return this year, with suggestions towards the end of last season an offer as little as £7m would be tabled.
The £15m valuation, met by West Ham, is non-negotiable as far as Liverpool are concerned, especially given the swiftness of Sam Allardyce's offer.
Indeed, there is some bemusement on Merseyside as to why Newcastle suddenly feel compelled to make known their 'non-interest' in the player since they are not part of the equation so far as Liverpool are concerned.
Liverpool's position is Carroll will either join West Ham or any club that matches the £15m offer, or stay as a squad player in a bid to force his way into their plans.
Twelve months ago, Newcastle always believed Carroll's preference to return home would enable them to secure their former striker at cut price – a policy they maintained before losing out to West Ham's loan agreement.
Brendan Rodgers made it clear then he would rather let Carroll leave for another club than have Newcastle "take a liberty" with a paltry bid.
There was never any prospect of that stance changing especially now a bid is on the table.
It is Carroll who finds himself with a difficult decision. With a World Cup next summer and Carroll having every chance of being in the England squad, he would be taking a huge risk going into next year as an Anfield reserve.
Both Liverpool and West Ham would prefer Carroll to agree a permanent move to Upton Park, but it has the hallmarks of another saga.
A possible route to negotiations with Newcastle ended because Rodgers' interest in a swap deal involving French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has receded. (© Daily Telegraph, London)