Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has all but admitted defeat in his audacious attempt to re-sign striker Andy Carroll.
The Magpies have tabled a cut-price offer for the man they sold to Liverpool for £35m (€44m) in January last year, and sources close to Carroll have indicated that if he had to leave Anfield, he would only do so for Tyneside.
However, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has dismissed Newcastle’s proposal and the England international looks destined to remain on Merseyside, for the time being at least.
Asked if Carroll’s arrival was still a possibility, Pardew replied: “Not as far as I’m aware, no.”
It has proved a frustrating few weeks for Pardew. He has bolstered his squad with Vurnon Anita, Romain Amalfitano and Gael Bigirimana, but several of his major targets remaining tantalisingly out of his reach.
The manager hopes to fend off any late interest in the likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye, but admits a late flurry of incoming activity is unlikely.
Pardew said: “We are just watching the market and seeing if anything pops its head up that’s appealing to us.
“Agents keep ringing me and giving me all sorts of names – they must think we don’t scout – but we are aware of the ones we are watching and if they decide to move on, then we might trigger ourselves.
“But at the moment, the targets we have are all very much secure at their clubs.”