Following the arrival of midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum on Tyneside, Steve McClaren was hoping to pile one transfer coup on top of another with a £15m bid for widely-admired Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
In looking to bolster his attacking ranks with some of the most promising forwards in Europe, McClaren is keen to do all he can before a ball is kicked to win over the legions of Newcastle fans disgruntled at a perceived lack of ambition and investment under owner Mike Ashley. The Magpies are 33/1 outsiders to finish in the top six this coming season.
And after successfully attracting Dutch international Wijnaldum, whose training ground goalscoring exploits have already gone viral in the north east this week, McClaren was confident of soon seeing the same from the 20-year-old Serbian forward.
Mitrovic has been a prolific scorer since moving to Belgium as a promising 18-year-old, bagging 36 league goals in his two seasons, enough to earn him 13 caps for Serbia.
And after his Derby side crumbled following injury to top poacher Chris Martin – who is 10/1 to finish as the Championship’s top marksman – last season, McClaren knows only too well that finding a prolific goalscorer is football’s equivalent to winning the lottery. His problem is he’s not the only manager buying a ticket.
It was previously thought that Swansea were Newcastle’s only British rivals keen to slap a Premier League logo on Mitrovic’s shoulders.
However, recent reports suggest that champions Chelsea have entered the race, with Jose Mourinho eager to add some vigour and promise to an attacking line-up tipping slightly more on the side of experience – Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao are all the wrong side of 25.
With Porto now also linked, it’s likely that the ambitions of youth will see Mitrovic favour a Champions League side, leaving McClaren to return to his shortlist.
Fortunately for Newcastle fans, this includes QPR’s Charlie Austin, a traditional striker very much in the mould of some of the Geordies’ former goalscoring greats. The 26-year-old impressed even as his side failed to beat the drop last season, scoring 18 goals despite the evident struggle.
Amid a concrete bid from Leicester and potential interest from West Ham and Crystal Palace, QPR are holding out for £15m, a figure Newcastle have already proved that they are capable of matching through their ultimately doomed chase of Mitrovic.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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