NEWCASTLE United are preparing a bid for Dutch striker Luuk de Jong – but boss Alan Pardew still hopes to keep hold of Demba Ba.
FC Twente star de Jong is high on Pardew’s list of possible replacements for Ba should the forward quit Tyneside.
The Magpies have watched the 21-year-old for two seasons, and have made inquiries over his availability in the last few days as Ba’s contract situation continues to rumble on.
Ba, Newcastle’s leading scorer last season, has a £7million release clause in his Toon deal which can be activated before July 31, and has so far resisted attempts by United to renegotiate his contract.
It means that Pardew must line up potential replacements for the striker, with de Jong jumping to the front of the queue.
Pardew, however, is still hopeful of keeping the Senegalese international on Tyneside, despite fervoured speculation linking him with moves to Galatasary and a number of other European teams.
He said: “Ever since he signed with us we’ve had it, I don’t think it’s going to go away.
“We want him to stay, the fans do too, and we hope that will be the case.”
Privately, however, United chiefs fear the player will be on his way this summer.
Chief scout Graham Carr has watched de Jong on a number of occasions, having noticed him when scouting Cheik Tiote when he was at Twente.
Reports last night suggested Newcastle have already made an £8m bid for the Holland international, who has scored 39 goals in 76 games for his club.
However Twente, managed by former England boss Steve McClaren, are thought to value the player at £12.5m.
De Jong has played seven times for Holland, scoring once, and was a part of their Euro 2012 squad, but failed to make an appearance as the Dutch crashed out at the group stages.
Pardew admits he looked straight away for a return showdown with Martin O’Neill when the new Premier League fixtures were announced.
The Newcastle United boss clashed with his Sunderland counterpart in an acrimonious Tyne-Wear derby back in March.
The game ended 1-1, but was overshadowed by a touchline bust-up between the two experienced managers, with Pardew apologising afterwards for his actions.
The two bosses will meet again on October 20 at the Stadium of Light after the fixtures came out yesterday.
“The first home game is probably the one I look for first, quickly followed by the Sunderland situation,” said Pardew.
“Those Tyne-Wear derbies are key factors in the season.”