According to recent reports, Newcastle will try to keep Chelsea and others at bay in the battle to sign Charlie Austin by offering the QPR striker the number nine jersey at St James’ Park, which suggests Steve McClaren’s pursuit of Wolfsburg’s 6ft5in hitman Bas Dost isn’t going well.
The Geordies have been linked with a series of goalscorers, including the aforementioned pair, Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic and PSV attacking-midfielder Giorginio Wijnaldum, but like Liverpool in their pursuits of Champions League-destined forwards, they may have set their sights a little high.
Liverpool look to have pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the £29m signing of Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino, but the Brazilian hasn’t yet kicked a ball in anger in either the Champions League or the Europa League.
The 23-year-old’s goal return of seven in last season’s Bundesliga was a big drop from 16 during the previous campaign, which may have spooked potential buyers at a chunky price, but Firmino also chipped in ten assists, just one down on his fine 2013/14 tally.
Brendan Rodgers clearly believes he’s worth the risk, and having dined at Europe’s top table just six months ago, Liverpool can expect to get close again with a few more ambitious signings.
Newcastle are a long way off being able to say the same, as evidenced by their 80/1 odds of gatecrashing next season’s Premier League top four.
Wolfsburg boss Dieter Hecking knows it too, and said as much when asked by local media about his star striker:
“Why would he go there? He can play next season in the Champions League with us. He will probably [play in the Champions League] neither in this nor in the next or the next year at Newcastle.”
It’s a fair point, especially as the 26-year-old Dutchman, who was handed his first Oranje cap by Guus Hiddink in March, has never played in the Champions League, with nine appearances on Die Wolfe’s road to the Europa League quarter finals last term the sum total of his continental experience up to now.
The money may be better in the northeast of England, with Mike Ashley set to loosen the purse strings following McClaren’s arrival, but after climbing to second in the Bundesliga and booking a place among the elite under Hecking, moving to Newcastle would surely be a backward step for Dost.
Liverpool are already learning the lessons of losing Champions League football in their failed pursuits of Memphis Depay and Mario Mandzukic, but Newcastle’s famed scouts have to work even harder considering mid-table Premier League fare is all that’s really on the menu.