AFTER conceding defeat is likely in the race to land Andy Carroll, Newcastle United have learned they now face an even greater challenge to land another leading transfer target.
The Magpies have courted St Etienne's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for more than a year and are considering a summer move for the prolific Ligue 1 forward.
But Newcastle could be priced out of a move for Aubameyang after interest from mega-wealthy Anzhi Makhachkala reached new heights this week.
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St Etienne are expecting their prize asset to move on this summer once their £12m valuation has been met and, while Newcastle ponder, Anzhi are prepared to match that and offer incredibly high wages to land him.
The Russian league outfit are believed to be willing to offer around £6m-a-year after tax to Aubameyang and that could be as much as three-times more than any deal presented to him at St James' Park.
Anzhi's African striker Samuel Eto'o has also tried to persuade the Gabon forward to join him there rather than opt for any other challenge that comes up.
"Such a proposition obviously makes me think about it," said Aubameyang, who has been given permission to leave if a suitable bid is made by one of the clubs chasing him.
Tottenham and Arsenal have also shown an interest in Aubameyang from the Premier League, while Fiorentina and Inter Milan have both been credited with summer bids from Italy.
The 23-year-old scored 19 goals for League Cup winners St Etienne and can play across the front-line, even though his preferred position is through the middle.
Newcastle are keen to land two new strikers before the start of the new campaign in August and Aubameyang represents one of their top targets.
Another was Carroll, although a permanent deal with West Ham edged a step closer this week when a £15m fee was agreed with Liverpool for the England striker.
Carroll is still thought to prefer a move back to Tyneside, but sources close to Newcastle were quick to suggest they are not in a position to compete financially with West Ham for his services.
Vitesse Arnhem's Wilfried Bony is another option, with manager Alan Pardew determined to bring in more firepower following the January departure of Demba Ba to Chelsea.
Pardew hinted last week that Shola Ameobi could also leave St James' Park this summer, which would mean Papiss Cisse was the only recognised senior striker remaining at the club.