NEWCASTLE UNITED have identified Marseille striker Loic Remy as the preferred alternative should Demba Ba's time on Tyneside come to an end when the transfer window opens next month.
Having failed to agree a new contract with Ba, the uncertainty surrounding the striker's future will again be a significant talking point throughout January unless he pens a new deal.
And Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is not willing to leave his squad short in attack, having learned lessons from the same period two years ago when Andy Carroll was sold on deadline day for £35m.
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Earlier this week Ba stated that "Arsenal were one those teams that make you dream" in an interview in France after suggestions the Gunners were planning a new year move.
And there is also known to be interest in him from Liverpool, where Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is desperate to add at least one more forward to his squad's ranks in a bid to end the campaign strongly.
Both clubs are considering matching the £7.5m release clause in his contract, which would then speed up the need for Pardew to find a replacement before January comes to an end.
That is why Newcastle are exploring their options on the transfer front and Remy is someone who could fit in to the club's strict wage structure and not cost beyond the sort of figures they are looking to spend.
Marseille's advisors are indicating to those that will listen that the France international could be sold next month.
And while the 25-year-old is valued at more than £13m, Marseille are willing to lower their asking price if an agreement can be reached over a part-exchange deal.
Winger Gabriel Obertan's name is one of to have been floated, which would mean Newcastle having to pay around £10m for Remy.
Pardew is keen to add a couple of new faces to a pool of players stretched to its limits so far this season, as the Magpies have tried to juggle Premier League football with progress in the Europa League.
Newcastle have not given up on Ba signing a new deal, but the former West Ham striker, signed for nothing 18 months ago, and his advisors would have to drop his reputed £80,000-a-week demands.
Remy has 17 caps for his country and has scored 27 times in his 68 appearances since moving from Nice two years ago, but has fallen out of favour at the Stade Velodrome this season.
In an ideal situation Pardew would successfully convince Ba to commit to a new deal, without the contract clause and lower his demands, and then focus on investing in other areas.
Pardew said: "It is a difficult window, but I think we would like to get - definitely - one player in and not lose anybody. It could be that we lose a player, you never know.
"Obviously I lost Andy Carroll in this window and in a situation that wasn't too dissimilar to what I'm in now two years ago, maybe it was a bit better. But if that is the case then we need two players and if we lose two then we need three."
Newcastle brought in midfielder Vurnon Anita from Ajax for £6m in the summer and failed to bring in a new right-back, having targeted Lille's Mathieu Debuchy all summer.
Pardew would still like to bring in a new full-back knowing that Danny Simpson is out of contract next summer and if he leaves as a free agent then Newcastle would be particularly short in that area.
They have also been to run the rule over Feyenoord defender Stefan de Vrij. The 20-year-old has interested a number of Premier League clubs and Newcastle are one of those to have watched him.