NEWCASTLE are resigned to a drawn-out chase for Loic Remy, with the Marseille striker pledging to bide his time before deciding where his future lies.
Alan Pardew has identified Remy as his preferred replacement for Demba Ba, but the Magpies manager faces competition from right across Europe as he pursues the 26-year-old.
Schalke and Borussia Dortmund have both made formal contact with Marseille officials, while Inter Milan have also indicated a willingness to make an offer for Remy as they attempt to secure a long-term replacement for Diego Milito.
Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has held an initial round of talks with Marseille officials and is confident of being able to strike a deal with the French club.
However, Remy's intentions remain uncertain, with French sources claiming the forward has indicated a desire to wait until the closing stages of the transfer window before deciding on his preferred destination.
Rumours that the France international was on Tyneside ahead of a medical were disproved when he was confirmed as part of the Marseille squad that travelled to Morocco at the start of the week for a training camp.
Remy played in Marseille's French Cup tie with Guingamp at the weekend, and is part of a 21-strong squad that will be based in Marrakech for a three-day training programme and friendly fixture this week.
Newcastle officials will be disappointed at their failure to strike a quick deal, although this week's developments are hardly unexpected.
Alan Pardew was keen to highlight the difficulties attached to the January transfer market last week, and the Magpies hierarchy have long accepted that they may have to patient as they attempt to secure a top-class replacement for Ba.
They have discussed a number of possible alternatives to Remy, with Saint Etienne's Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng currently topping the list of fallback options.
Chief scout Graham Carr has watched the 23-year-old on a number of occasions in the last 12 months, and the Gabon international has previous experience of St James' Park after scoring at the ground in his national side's Olympic fixture with Switzerland.
Newcastle have also been monitoring Rennes forward Mevlut Erdinc, a player they have attempted to sign unsuccessfully in the past.
Newcastle bid for Erdinc before he joined Paris St Germain for 9m Euros in 2009, but the Turkey international failed to make an impact at the Parc des Princes and completed a 7.5m Euros move to Rennes last January.
He has only managed seven goals in 33 appearances for Rennes, but Newcastle's scouting team are believed to continue to rate him highly.
At the moment, the only senior strikers on Newcastle's books are Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi. The latter is suspended for this weekend's trip to Norwich following his dismissal in the FA Cup defeat at Brighton, but will be available for the remainder of the month after the Nigerian FA withdrew him from their squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Nigerian authorities claimed Ameobi had refused to answer their calls at the start of the month, and had threatened to report the striker to FIFA, a move that could have resulted in him being banned for the duration of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa.
However, they have opted not to take things any further, a decision that will be welcomed at St James' Park.
"We will not be appealing to FIFA to stop Ameobi from playing for Newcastle," said a Nigerian FA spokesman. "There are more important issues than Ameobi. We have players that can do well at the Nations Cup and we will not speak about a player that is not in the team."
Ameobi will not be the only senior player missing at Carrow Road this weekend at Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor are unlikely to be involved despite returning to training last week.
The pair are close to completing their recoveries from injury, but are not now expected to return until the home game with Reading in ten days time.
James Perch is also a major doubt for this weekend's game, but Mathieu Debuchy will make his Magpies debut and Cisse, Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez should also be available.
* Newcastle's home game with Southampton has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 24 (1.30pm).