NEWCASTLE UNITED are hoping to agree a remarkable cut-price deal with Liverpool that would see £35m striker Andy Carroll return to Tyneside before the start of next season.
The Magpies have been in touch with their Anfield counterparts over the weekend with a bid to take the England man on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal next summer.
And while the initial discussions have not been successful there is a realistic chance an agreement can be reached which would see Carroll make a sensational return.
Newcastle had hoped the prospect of them paying £12m at the end of an initial loan would be enough to persuade Liverpool to accept their offer.
However, Northern Echo Sport understands further discussions are going to be needed to do a deal. The key thing, though, is that Carroll would be interested in rejoining the club where it all
started for him.
The 23-year-old has been frustrated to learn that new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has already made up his mind and wants him out of the club.
Carroll, who had a dreadful start to life on Merseyside after moving there injured 17 months ago, had started to find his feet in a Reds shirt and was keen to prove himself next season.
But Rodgers has been quick to tell him that he is not part of his plans and that he will be moved on if the right deal comes along in the next few weeks.
Liverpool are already thought to have contacted Tottenham to hear if they are interested in signing him. Such an attempt was knocked back by Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas.
There is also significant interest in Carroll from West Ham United, who had an offer turned down last week, and Fulham. AC Milan are also thought to be considering a move following the sale of
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris St Germain.
But an opportunity to move back to Tyneside would be extremely tempting for the young man from Gateshead. He knows Alan Pardew still thinks a lot of him, which would weigh heavily on his mind,
although he is said to be only interested in a loan at this stage.
There would be hurdles over wages to overcome, given he was given an £80,000-a-week contract when he moved to Liverpool in January last year.
But Newcastle are hopeful the idea of a loan move would suit all parties, knowing it could be difficult for Liverpool to persuade other interested clubs to meet his wage demands and pay around £15m
in a transfer fee.
Rodgers has already started to plan for next season without Carroll. The Liverpool boss paid £7.1m to Roma for striker Fabio Borini last week and he is still in the market for more, despite telling
both Craig Bellamy and Luis Suarez that he wants them to stay.
If a deal can be concluded for Carroll with Newcastle then it would seem difficult to imagine Carroll, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi all being
retained in the same squad.
And with the £7m clause in Ba's contract due to expire at the end of the month then the Senegalese striker remains the most likely candidate to depart Newcastle.