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Newcastle hope Remy will be attracted by French connection
NEWCASTLE United are hoping the club's French connection will be the key to landing striker Loic Remy from Marseille this month.
Magpies manager Alan Pardew has stepped up his pursuit of Ajax youngster Jody Lukoki in the last 24 hours, but Remy remains his number one target.
The France international has rejected an opportunity to join QPR despite the London club agreeing a deal with Marseille and Harry Redknapp travelling to France specifically to watch Remy in action at the weekend.
German duo Schalke and Borussia Dortmund have also outlined their interest to Marseille officials, and both clubs can offer Champions League football in the second half of the season.
However, Pardew is hoping the presence of Newcastle's French contingent will be a major bargaining tool to help lure Remy to Tyneside.
Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and Hatem Ben Arfa have all worked alongside Remy at international level, and it is hoped the trio will make it easier for the 26-year-old to settle in the North-East should he agree to move this month.
Debuchy admitted the presence of Cabaye and Ben Arfa was a major factor in his £5.5m transfer from Lille last week, and it is hoped there will be a similar pull in the case of Remy.
Newcastle officials are still to agree a fee for the striker, who is valued at around £10m, but a series of preliminary talks are understood to have ended with a broad agreement.
Marseille are resigned to losing Remy this month, although the French club insist any deal will be on their terms.
"Some English clubs are looking at our players and have not yet come knocking on the door," said Marseille sporting director Jose Anigo.
"It will come. The only window of opportunity at the moment is for Loic Remy, if a big club comes for him and he is interested. We will see, but otherwise no one will go.
"His succession of injuries has hampered him, and saw him miss the Euros. But I think he is back. I can see in training there is a renewed confidence.
"But if he left, we still have a strong attack with (Andre-Pierre) Gignac and Jordan Ayew. We are well armed."
Sources close to Remy claim his decision not to join QPR should not be interpreted as an unwillingness to move to England.
However, the expressions of interest from Schalke and Borussia Dortmund will be a concern to Pardew and Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias, who are also aware of potential competition from Italian side Inter Milan.
The German Bundesliga has undergone a major renaissance in the last few seasons, and both Schalke and Borussia Dortmund would be able to match anything the Magpies were able to offer financially this month.
If a deal for Remy was to collapse, Newcastle would switch their attention to their two other leading attacking targets, Saint Etienne forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bordeaux striker Yoan Gouffran.
As well as pursuing experienced centre-forwards, Newcastle are also monitoring a number of less established players this month in an attempt to maintain their tried-and-tested model of signing young, foreign-based players with plenty of scope for improvement.
Lukoki, a 20-year-old attacking midfielder with Ajax, falls into that category, and Newcastle officials are poised to make a formal approach for his services.
The club's chief scout, Graham Carr, has watched Lukoki on a number of occasions in the last few months, and believes he has the potential to develop substantially in the future.
Lukoki was born in DR Congo, but has represented Holland at Under-19 level and made his senior debut for Ajax in January 2011.
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