Keegan to face recruitment crisis

Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan will return to his desk to find his recruitment plans in a state of flux.

Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan will return to his desk to find his recruitment plans in a state of flux.

The 57-year-old, who is currently on holiday, agreed a list of potential targets with owner Mike Ashley, chairman Chris Mort and Dennis Wise at the end of last season, and left them to get on with their work.

During the intervening weeks the Magpies have been linked with a series of names both at home and abroad but the only movement so far has been out of St James’ Park.

Stephen Carr, Peter Ramage and James Troisi have left he club after their contracts were not renewed, while Newcastle have agreed a deal with Fenerbahce for midfielder Emre’s return to Turkey.

In addition, Coca-Cola Championship side Ipswich are closing in on a move for striker Shola Ameobi.

Defender David Rozehnal, currently on duty with the Czech Republic at Euro 2008 after being sent out on loan to Lazio in January has now joined the Italian club for a reported fee of £2.9m.

Midfielder James Milner has been linked with both Liverpool and Middlesbrough among others.

Whether or not Joey Barton remains on the books next season appears to be a matter for the player himself.

It is understood Barton’s agent, Willie McKay, has been told the 25-year-old, who was last month jailed after pleading guilty to assault and affray, can stay at the club, but only on a vastly-reduced salary.

The alternative to accepting a wage cut of up to 50%, to £30,000 a week, is believed to be the sack, although Newcastle could retain his registration in order to command a fee if he leaves.

Neither the club nor McKay were commenting on the situation today.

But what is perhaps of concern to the fans is that while there has been plenty of talk about arrivals – admittedly, not from those conducting affairs within St James’ – nothing has materialised as yet.

Keegan had to admit defeat in his pursuit of Jonathan Woodgate and Giles Barnes in January, and later missed out to Tottenham on Croatia midfielder Luka Modric.

However, the Magpies have registered their interest in St Etienne frontman Bafetimibi Gomis, who replaced Nicolas Anelka as a late substitute in France’s 0-0 draw with Romania yesterday.

It is understood Newcastle have tabled a £10m offer, although the 22-year-old has also been tracked by Arsenal, who are rumoured to face a fight to hang on to Emmanuel Adebayor.

Gomis recently signed a new four-year deal and has been likened to a younger Didier Drogba.

It promises to be an anxious few weeks for Keegan as Wise and vice-president (player recruitment) Tony Jimenez attempt to bolster a squad which was small even before the departures started.

The former England boss, of course, spent heavily during his first reign at St James’ to recruit the likes of Les Ferdinand, David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla and Alan Shearer.

The Gomis bid and the Modric offer which preceded it suggest the current regime is willing to invest in the playing staff, but their efforts to control the wage bill also hint at a greater emphasis on balancing the books.

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