Monday, May 28, 2007

Peter Crouch Heading To Newcastle United???

Sam Allardyce, the Newcastle United manager, is weighing up an audacious £10 million move for Peter Crouch, the Liverpool forward. Twice thwarted in his attempts to sign Crouch while in charge at Bolton Wanderers, Allardyce is hoping to strike it third time lucky this summer, although any deal would be dependent on a number of factors.

Rafael BenÍtez is willing to sell Crouch, but the Liverpool manager will first want to satisfy himself that a suitable replacement can be found, especially with Craig Bellamy nearing the exit door, Robbie Fowler released and the pursuit of one world-class striker proving difficult enough.

BenÍtez has struck a deal with Bayer Leverkusen for Andriy Voronin, the Ukraine forward, but Samuel Eto’o, the Barcelona striker, and Carlos Tévez, of West Ham United, are looking increasingly ambitious targets, while the manager is understood to have reservations about whether Darren Bent is worth the £15 million fee Charlton Athletic could command.

With Liverpool demanding £12 million for Bellamy, who is being courted by Aston Villa, West Ham and Blackburn Rovers, BenÍtez would probably want at least that much for Crouch, although Allardyce wants first to establish whether Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins wish to stay at St James’ Park.

Owen is attracting interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, so in theory a swap deal involving Crouch would make sense, but the situation is thought to be more complicated than that, especially because Newcastle supporters would probably be lukewarm to the idea. Crouch was also wanted by Glenn Roeder, Allardyce’s predecessor.

Whatever the decisions of Owen or Martins, they will not prevent Allardyce from pressing ahead with his plans to sign Mark Viduka, who is a free agent after his contract with Middlesbrough expired.

Mohamed Sissoko will hold talks with BenÍtez this week about his future. The Mali midfield player fell down the pecking order after Javier Mascherano’s arrival.

BenÍtez’s priority may be to find players who will turn Liverpool into genuine title contenders, but that has not prevented the Spaniard from planning for the future, with Andras Simon and Krisztian Nemeth, two young strikers, arriving on long-term contracts from MTK Hungaria. Simon is a year younger than Nemeth, 18, who caught the eye during last year’s Under17 European Championship finals.