Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United to Face Fight for Top Targets

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United to Face Fight for Top Targets

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Newcastle United appear to be sliding further back in the queue for top summer targets Dirk Kuyt and Steed Malbranque after Premiership rivals Arsenal and Middlesbrough raised the stakes in the race for the in-demand pair.

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger normally likes to play his cards close to his chest when it comes to transfer dealings but he has broken with tradition to admit to scouting 25-year-old Dutch striker Kuyt.

"I went to Feyenoord to check on him and he is a very generous player who works for the team," he is reported to have told French TV station TF1.

The Frenchman's very public admission suggests the Gunners will join Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in rivaling Newcastle for the signature of the centre-forward, who can also play on the wing. On the other hand, it could be an attempt to throw other clubs off the scent of his real targets.

Either way, Wenger's very public praise for the forward is only likely to increase Feyenoord's asking price for one of Europe's most in-demand players.

Roeder sent chief scout David Mills to watch Kuyt in the Dutch Eredivisie last season and Alan Shearer took on his new role of scout at Sunday's World Cup second round game between Portugal and Holland.

Kuyt has been identified as a potential replacement target man following Shearer's retirement at the end of last season. He did little to advance his cause in front of the man he could replace in Nuremberg, however.

Playing his first full game of the competition in his preferred position, Kuyt failed to impress with either his hold-up play or finishing but United have been watching him long enough not to base their decision entirely on 90 minutes of football.

Kuyt had actually improved Newcastle's chances of signing him last week when he stated he wanted to play in the Premiership. …

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