Newcastle and Sunderland are among the Premier League clubs leading the chase for Swiss winger Tranquillo Barnetta.
Barnetta played over half the games for Bayer Leverksuen last season as the club caused a mini surprise in the Bundesliga by finishing second behind Borussia Dortmund and qualifying for the Champions League.
He then continued this good form by starring for Switzerland in their Euro 2012 qualifier with England, where his double secured a valuable 2-2 draw and frustrated the qualification chances of Fabio Capello’s men.
This string of performances has generated interest from the Premier League, with Newcastle and Sunderland reportedly keen on signing the 26-year-old.
Despite Leverkusen qualifying for the Champions League, it is believed that Barnetta is happy to leave and Newcastle are potentially the most likely to secure his signature.
Alan Pardew’s men should have no trouble affording the £6 million-rated winger and this position would require further strengthening if Wayne Routledge completes his expected exit from St James’ Park.
Meanwhile, Newcastle may benefit from having an actual winger player on the right-side, as this is a position that has had to be filled by central midfielder Joey Barton for the last season.
If Pardew can get Barnetta and Jonas Gutierrez working in tandem down the opposite flanks supplying crosses for the likes of Demba Ba, Newcastle may enjoy a positive season.
It is 9/4 in the Premier League betting that Newcastle finish in the top half and 50/1 that they really exceed expectation by finishing in the top six.
Barnetta’s versatility could also prove useful as he may be asked to play a more central role at times, particularly if Chiek Tiote continues to pick up numerous yellow cards and gains suspensions in what will be his second Premier League season.