Newcastle clear for Kone talks
Newcastle have been given permission to speak to Wigan striker Arouna Kone.
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However, they may have to battle it out with Everton for the Ivorian's signature with former Latics boss Roberto Martinez keen to take him to Goodison Park.
9. Arouna Kone
It is understood the 29-year-old has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave the DW Stadium in the wake of relegation from the Premier League.
News of the Magpies' interest in Kone emerged through the website of owner Mike Ashley's sportswear company, www.sportsdirectnews.com.
It is not yet clear whether or not Newcastle have agreed a fee with Wigan for the proposed transfer, but they are sure to face stiff competition from Everton.
Kone arrived at Wigan from Spanish cub Levante last summer and prospered under Martinez, scoring 13 goals in his first season in English football.
Alan Pardew is desperate to add striker-power to his squad after seeing his team struggling in the wake of Demba Ba's January departure for Chelsea.
Papiss Cisse carried the burden of providing the goals following Ba's exit, and although he too struck 13 times in total, he alone was unable to prevent the club slipping into a relegation fight.
Newcastle have been chasing St Etienne's Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, but have been unable to compete with Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund, while they remain in the hunt for Aston Villa's Darren Bent, but are not prepared to pay anywhere near the midlands club's £8million valuation of the 29-year-old, and Kone would be significantly cheaper.
Pardew would be delighted to make headway in the transfer market a day after seeing utility man James Perch head in the opposite direction as the third Englishman, after Steve Harper and Danny Simpson, to leave St James' Park since the end of last season.
The Magpies' rebuilding plans have been stalled somewhat by the appointment of director of football Joe Kinnear, who has held discussions with Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr.
A move for FC Twente defender Douglas has been shelved and the manager will start work in earnest with his returning players over the weekend, with his squad smaller in terms of numbers than it was at the end of the last campaign.