Islam Slimani is hoping to secure a permanent move to Newcastle United – by firing the club to Premier League safety.
The Leicester City striker joined the club on loan last month.
And Slimani could make his debut against Manchester United at St James’s Park tomorrow (2.15pm kick-off).
The loan deal doesn’t have an option to make the move permanent.
However, Slimani, brought to Tyneside to compete with Dwight Gayle and Joselu up front, says he would be “very happy” to secure a longer-term move.
Asked if he was open to staying at the club beyond this season, Slimani said: “Yes, yes. I’m just on loan at the minute, but if I could stay here I’d be very happy, so let’s see how it goes.”
Slimani found his opportunities limited at Leicester, where Jamie Vardy was the Foxes’ first-choice striker.
Slimani feels he has the “trust” of manager Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.
“The big difference is that he (Benitez) trusts me, and when you have the trust of your coach, that’s very important,” said Slimani, who joined Leicester from Sporting Lisbon in a £28million deal in 2016.
“They trusted me at Leicester. It’s not that I wasn’t trusted.
The big difference is that he (Benitez) trusts me, and when you have the trust of your coach, that’s very important.Islam Slimani
“I started well, but then I was dogged by injuries.”
Slimani is now focused on helping 16th-placed Newcastle climb the Premier League table.
“I hope I can show what I’m capable of,” said the Algeria international.
“At Leicester, I had a good time there and a good season, but it was always about injuries and getting injured, but now it’s about Newcastle.
“I’ve worked hard all week and the aim is to give 100% every single match.
“I think Newcastle’s a big club and it’s a good choice.”
Slimani was also wanted by a number of European clubs.
“A lot of clubs got in touch, but I’m pretty sure I made the right choice,” he said.
“I’m here to support the team and have a good second half to the season.”
Slimani, signed late on transfer deadline day, was sold on a move to St James’s Park after speaking with Benitez.
“He phoned me and we had a good chat,” said Slimani, who has scored five goals in all competitions this season.
“There was a good feeling between us.
“It’s important to get a call like this, to know that you’re wanted by a big coach like him.”
Asked if he felt any pressure, Slimani added: “No, my objective is to score goals.”
Slimani arrived on Tyneside with a thigh problem, and he will be assessed today ahead of the Manchester United game.
Benitez said: “He came with a little problem, and then we were treating him and he was doing some training sessions, but still he was feeling it a little bit. We need to make sure he’s fine and we don’t take any risks. We will see. We have to wait.”
Slimani has taken the No 13 squad number at United. Will it be lucky for Slimani – and Newcastle – between now and the end of the season?
“That’s my number in the national team,” said the Algiers-born player.