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Newcastle suffer major transfer setback as QPR hijack Remy deal
QPR boss Harry Redknapp last night made a last-ditch attempt to hijack Newcastle United's £10m capture of Loic Remy, with officials at the London club expressing confidence the striker will opt to move to Loftus Road rather than St James' Park.
Remy had been due to travel to the North-East yesterday evening to discuss personal terms with Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias ahead of a proposed medical later today.
However, after a dramatic day of developments in London, it is now unlikely that those talks will take place.
Despite a previous failure to agree a deal with Remy and his representatives, QPR were given permission to hold formal talks with the France international after they matched Newcastle's offer to Marseille yesterday afternoon.
Remy and his agents were already in London after travelling to the capital prior to heading north to Newcastle and a meeting took place early yesterday evening. It is understood QPR offered Remy a wage package that was significantly more lucrative than the deal Magpies officials had intimated they would be willing to provide.
QPR's offer also featured an automatic release clause in the event of relegation, something Remy and his representatives demanded, and the meeting ended with all parties close to a firm agreement.
Llambias and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley are aware of last night's developments, but there is unlikely to be a rush from either to increase their original offer in an attempt to trump QPR's interest.
The pair are notoriously reluctant to be drawn into a bidding war for any player, and while there will be intense disappointment if Remy opts to join QPR rather than Newcastle, alternative attacking targets are in place.
The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng and Mevlut Erdinc have been scouted extensively in the last couple of months, but having spent most of the last week pursuing Remy, Magpies officials will have to move quickly as they attempt to secure a replacement for Demba Ba.
The transfer window is due to close in 16 days time, and as the last 24 hours have proved, it can be extremely difficult to tie up a deal when other clubs are also interested in the same targets.
Newcastle had been hoping to officially unveil Remy as their second January signing tomorrow, and Alan Pardew had been hoping to include the striker in his squad for Saturday's Premier League home game with Reading.
Instead, the major focus for the remainder of the week will switch to talks over Fabricio Coloccini's future. There has been no further developments since Coloccini produced a superb display in Saturday's goalless draw at Norwich, less than 24 hours after news broke of his desire to return to his native Argentina, but Llambias is due to meet with the defender and his representatives tomorrow.
Senior St James' Park sources claim the club is still hoping to strike a resolution that will see Coloccini remain on Tyneside until at least the end of the season. However, the skipper is expected to argue that he would prefer to move to Argentina immediately, even if that means having to make a significant financial sacrifice.
If Coloccini was to leave this month he would have to be replaced, with Mike Williamson and the injured Steven Taylor the only experienced centre-halves in the squad. Even if Coloccini was not to depart, though, Pardew accepts the last couple of months have highlighted the need for an additional defender anyway.
Newcastle's scouting team have watched a number of centre-halves in the last few months, with long-term target Douglas continuing to command a great deal of interest.
Valenciennes' Gaeten Bong and Montpellier's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are regarded as viable alternatives, along with Groningen youngster Virgil van Dijk.
Meanwhile, Hatem Ben Arfa has been discussing a possible move of his own in the French media, with the winger opening the door to a potential summer departure for Paris St Germain.
Ben Arfa, who is currently sidelined through injury, insists he is determined to help ensure Newcastle do not become embroiled in a relegation battle in the second half of the season.
Provided that is achieved, though, he claims he would consider an offer from Paris St Germain if the French club, who have been extensively linked with him in the last couple of months, opted to make a formal approach.
“I am under contract with Newcastle and I'm fine,” said Ben Arfa. “First, I must save my club. I only think of that. When I see the games on television, it is not easy. The team needs all players and it is almost (in the) relegation (places).
“After I have saved my club, you never know. Signing for PSG would be a childhood dream. If there is a proposal, I will study it with interest. If there is a proposal - the 'if' is important. PSG is a club that lives in my heart. To play would be a nice gift.”