Magpies need £2m to land Beckford

11 January 2010 09:54
OFFICIALS from Newcastle and Leeds will hold another round of talks today in an attempt to secure an agreement over Jermaine Beckford's proposed transfer to Tyneside.

The Magpies lodged an improved offer of £1.5m at the end of last week, only for Leeds chairman Ken Bates to reject it and repeat his insistence that £2m is a minimum requirement.

Mike Ashley is reluctant to pay that figure for a player who will be out of contract at the end of the season, although the Newcastle owner is understood to be willing to go higher if a proportion of the price is made dependent upon his club winning promotion to the Premier League this season.

However, Bates is adamant that Beckford will only be allowed to leave for a straight cash fee, and today's talks are a further attempt to thrash out a compromise that will be acceptable to both parties.

If they fail, Ashley is ready to instruct his manager, Chris Hughton, to look elsewhere as he attempts to bolster his attacking options for the second half of the season.

Despite news of his transfer request becoming public at the end of last week, Beckford was part of the Leeds team that drew 1-1 with Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend.

The striker, whose name was booed when it was read out to the Elland Road crowd in the build-up to kick-off, remains keen to join Newcastle, despite fresh interest from Premier League duo Wigan Athletic and Wolves.

But Leeds boss Simon Grayson insists he will continue to pick his side's leading goalscorer until a deal is agreed, and expressed dissatisfaction at the public nature of last week's discussions.

There is no agreement between us and Newcastle, confirmed Grayson, in the wake of his side's draw. But people do things they are not supposed to do. It happens quite regularly that representatives speak to clubs all the time without permission.

I am not naive enough to believe that doesn't happen. I would be foolish to think Jermaine's agent is not talking to other football clubs. We are passed January 1 anyway, but we are the ones that will dictate whether he goes or not, regardless of who anyone else is talking to.

It was a surprise and a disappointment for news of the transfer request to come out.

Whoever advises him has decided it is the best option.

I think he has been advised wrongly, but whether that is right or wrong is irrespective, as it has happened.

Jermaine can stay until the end of the season because that is when his contract runs out. We have said all along that, while he is under contract, we will dictate whether he leaves or not. That is our prerogative. That is why people sign contracts. Until someone meets our valuation, he is still our player.

I am sure if he is still here on February 1, he will then keep performing well until the end of the season because, if he does that, he might get a free transfer to an even bigger club than the one he was going to join in the window.

Having missed out on Matt Kilgallon when he opted to remain at Sheffield United Everton are understood to have offered the defender a lucrative free transfer in the summer Hughton will be reluctant to admit defeat in his pursuit of Beckford.

But the Magpies manager is also lining up possible alternatives in case Leeds' intransigence results in the striker remaining in West Yorkshire for the second half of the season.

Former loanee Marlon Harewood remains an option, although Martin O'Neill's decision to slap a £1.5m price tag on the striker's head would be a major impediment to any deal.

Ideally, Newcastle would be looking to take Harewood back on loan for the second half of the season, something O'Neill is extremely reluctant to agree to.

The Magpies would definitely be unwilling to shell out a seven-figure fee for a 30- year-old with little or no sellon value, and West Ham's interest in re-signing a player who left Upton Park in 2007 would be an added complication if Hughton made a formal approach to Aston Villa.

Weekend reports linked Newcastle with a possible swoop for former Magpie Michael Chopra.

But sources in Wales suggest Cardiff would demand a sky-high fee for their leading goalscorer, even though he has failed to make the starting line-up for the Bluebirds' last two matches.

Source: Northern_Echo