Andre Gray has been linked to Newcastle United by various sources in recent days, with the Mirror reporting that Burnley would be willing to deal with the Magpies on the basis that Mike Ashley pays transfer fees in one lump sum.
This is unusual in football and would give Sean Dyche extra spending power this summer to strengthen the squad.
However, the striker could yet agree to a new deal with contract talks set to begin soon, according to the Shields Gazette. It won’t be until the 25-year-old either accepts or rejects a new contract that his future will become clearer.
Where would he fit in at St James’ Park?
Rafa Benitez is believed to be looking to strengthen his attacking options as the side were reliant on Dwight Gayle for goals in the striking position during the Championship season. The other two strikers in the squad (Daryl Murphy and Aleksandar Mitrovic) managed nine between them.
Furthermore, both of them could depart this summer and the Magpies will need to replace them with proven players at the top level. Andre Gray has had a good couple of seasons and shown that he is able to compete in the Premier League, but he would not be the first choice at Newcastle if he does sign for the club.
Although they will be a newly-promoted outfit, Newcastle will have ambitions of challenging for a top-half finish next season and they will bring players in that can deliver that goal. If they bring in two strikers, as is expected, it would be a surprise if Gray is the highest profile of the two.
They already have Gayle, who is a similar profile to the Burnley striker and has proven himself at St James’ Park. In the Premier League, the current number nine has a better record than the rumoured transfer target. He has found the back of the net every 182.9 minutes, while Gray scored once every 252 minutes in his first season in the top flight.
Considering Gayle has been written off as a failure in the Premier League and wasn’t given a sustained run in the first team at Crystal Palace, he has a good goal record in the top flight. He has improved since his move to Newcastle and is now playing in a system that caters to his strengths.
It would be a surprise if he isn’t the first choice at the club next season and an even bigger one if Gray is the player that is brought into lead the line ahead of him. Given their similar styles and the Burnley number seven’s work rate, it would be a useful signing for the Magpies to provide extra competition in the squad.
This is certainly one to keep an eye on as the number of reports suggests that there is genuine interest from the Championship winners. The main question mark is provided by Gray’s contract situation.
If he signs a new deal, then a move to St James’ Park is unlikely. However, if he declines a new deal and opts for a move away, the Magpies would be the most likely destination.
They play a style that suits him and would be willing to pay £10-12 million to secure his services. He would have to fight for a starting berth as he hasn’t shown enough in the Premier League to be picked ahead of Dwight Gayle, but it would be a step up to a bigger club and provide an opportunity to work with a Champions League-winning manager.
This is a story that could develop over the coming weeks.