Although Leeds United, who are seeking a replacement for Chris Wood at centre-forward, have apparently cooled their initial interest in Gayle, the 26-year-old does not lack admirers in the second tier. Gayle scored 23 goals in 34 games to help Benítez’s side win the Championship last season but Newcastle’s manager has been concerned by his attitude this summer.
There are fears that, although he is now physically fit, mentally, the striker has not fully recovered from a longstanding hamstring problem which resurfaced last spring. That matter could yet reduce his price to a sum nearer the £10m Newcastle paid to take Gayle from Crystal Palace last summer and much hinges on whether a satisfactory compromise can be reached.
Significantly Benítez did not even find a place on the bench for Gayle as Newcastle defeated West Ham United 3-0 last Saturday and is now leaning heavily towards selling him.
Any deal would be contingent on the arrival of at least one replacement. Benítez is very interested in the possibility of taking Divock Origi on loan from Liverpool and also wants to borrow the winger, Kenedy from Chelsea. Newcastle may also buy Vidar Orn Kjartansson, the Iceland striker, from Maccabi Tel Aviv but Origi remains their principal target.
Matters are complicated by the Belgian proving a man in demand across Europe, with Marseille also big admirers of a player Jürgen Klopp wants to see being deployed as a first choice forward at whichever club ends up signing him for the season.
It had been thought that Benítez would sell Aleksandar Mitrovic before Thursday night but, despite enduring doubts over the Serbia striker’s temperament – he was charged with violent conduct by the FA on Tuesday following an incident involving West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini – he now appears to be inclined to keep Mitrovic ahead of Gayle.
With Newcastle’s wage bill nudging up towards £100m and the squad overblown, their manager has been instructed to do some serious pruning by Mike Ashley. The club’s owner will doubtless be duly pleased to see the centre-half Grant Hanley seemingly heading to Norwich City, where he is scheduled for a medical on Wednesday.
Another player potentially on the move is Jack Colback. The midfielder has been frozen out by Benítez – who has told a player latterly sent to train at the academy he will not be part of his 25 man Premier League squad – and could be set for a loan move to Hull City, with Newcastle paying 50% of his wages.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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