6:32am Wednesday 21st May 2014
By Paul Fraser
ALAN PARDEW is closing in on his first signing of the summer after Newcastle United took the lead in the race to land promising Tenerife forward Ayoze Perez.
The Magpies have remained tight-lipped over suggestions that the player’s representatives were on their way to Tyneside yesterday to thrash out a deal, but sources on the Canary Island insist a deal is not yet at such an advanced stage.
But Newcastle have made it known to Tenerife - who still have three matches remaining this season - that they are keen to do business for a 20-year-old whose 16 goals were not enough to help his club to secure promotion back to La Liga.
Portuguese outfit Porto have also been pursuing the youngster, although they are resigned to missing out after learning the player is attracted by the prospect of heading to play in the Premier League.
A £2m release clause in his contract has alerted Newcastle, but they face strong competition from Premier League rivals Everton, managed by Spaniard Roberto Martinez, and Swansea City.
Perez is regarded as one of the hottest talents produced by Tenerife in decades and is capable of playing out wide or through the middle. Given his tender age, Newcastle would be looking for other attacking options even if they struck a deal him in the next few weeks.
Pardew has stressed the importance of bringing in attacking reinforcements to Newcastle’s managing director Lee Charnley, particularly after Luuk De Jong and Loic Remy’s loan deals expired.
It has also emerged that Shola Ameobi has almost certainly played his last game for the club he signed for in 1995 from Wallsend Boys Club.
Ameobi has told those close to him that he has rejected the initial offer of a one-year deal to stay at St James’ Park and that he will delay a decision on his future until after the World Cup finals.
If the 32-year-old’s time at Newcastle has come to an end, with Hull City among the front-runners for his signature, then that will be another hole in his squad’s attacking ranks.
Perez, who would not be seen as an immediate contender to start up front next season, would certainly help boost options up front knowing that Papiss Cisse, sidelined with a long term injury, is the only striker set to be at the club next season at this stage.
After talks between Pardew and the boardroom following the final game of the season at Liverpool on May 11, there was an agreement the squad needs to have greater strength in depth.
Pardew has also been pushing for more Premier League experience to have at his disposal. That has prompted names such as West Ham’s Mark Noble, who he worked with at Upton Park, and Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross being linked in the last 48 hours.
But Perez’s age and potential mean he still fits the criteria owner Mike Ashley wants to see in the team.
Ten of Newcastle’s youngsters have, meanwhile, flown out to the Far East to take part in the annual Hong Kong Football Club Citibank Soccer Sevens.
Last year the Magpies were beaten in the final by Leicester City and this time around it will take place in Happy Valley this weekend.
Football development manager Peter Beardsley has taken Rolando Aarons, Jak Alnwick, Daniel Barlaser, Macauley Gillesphey, Alex Gillead, Adam Laidler, Ryan McKinnon, Greg Olley, Jonathyn Quinn and Callum Williams with him in the hope of going one better than in 2013.
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