NEWCASTLE United were today set to make a last-ditch deadline day move for Adrian Mariappa.
The club has already had three bids for Mariappa rejected by Watford, who rate the defender in the £4m-bracket.
Newcastle – whose last bid was reportedly £2.25m – won’t meet that valuation, but are expected to test manager Sean Dyce’s resolve to hold on to the 25-year-old with a final take-it-or-leave-it bid.
Mariappa, a pacy centre-half, was watched by United assistant manager John Carver and first-team coach in Friday night’s FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur.
And Carver and Stone left Vicarage Road impressed with the performance of Mariappa, having seen him keep Emmanuel Adeboyor quiet in the fourth-round tie.
Arsenal were also understood to have been represented at the game, while Swansea City are another club keen on Mariappa, who has 18 months left on his contract and is said to be keen to make the step up to the Premier League from the Championship.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew – who signed £9m striker Papiss Demba Cisse earlier this month – has again refused to discuss the club’s targets.
However, while keeping the club’s cards close to his chest, Pardew did suggest there was a chance of a late arrival at St James’s Park.
“On the last day, there might be some movement, but nothing that will impact on us massively in or out,” said Pardew.
If Newcastle fail to prise Mariappa away from Watford, the likelihood is that the club will move for FC Twente’s Douglas in the summer.
Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen is another possible target in the next window.