NEWCASTLE UNITED are preparing a Christmas raid for world-class Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert.

Classy Kluivert's future at Barcelona is in considerable doubt after the breakdown several times of contract negotiations.

The 27-year-old has signalled his intentions to leave the Spanish giants and he has been barracked by the club's supporters since the restart of the Primera Liga campaign.

Kluivert was on the verge of leaving Barcelona in the summer for nothing, but both parties agreed for him to stay on to the end of the current season.

However, following the abuse Kluivert has received from the fanatical Barca fans, his spell at Camp Nou looks set to end when the transfer window opens for a month in January.

That has alerted Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson, who sees the former AC Milan man as the long-term successor to Alan Shearer.

Despite Shearer agreeing to a one-year extension to his current deal at St. James' Park, Robson knows his options are limited when Shearer is unavailable.

And Newcastle are understood to be putting the wheels in motion to swoop for the Holland international and are planning talks with the player's representatives in December. Kluivert is keen to test his skills in the Premiership and he has previously hinted he would like to join the Magpies.

However, only time will tell whether Robson's powers of persuasion can capture the predatory talents of Kluivert - especially without the appetising carrot of Champions League football to dangle in front of him.

Newcastle hope that Kluivert will be tempted by a lucrative three-year deal.

Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy has played down reports linking him with Newcastle pair Stephen Caldwell and Bradley Orr. McCarthy has been seen running the rule over the Newcastle second-string and speculation has mounted over his targets.

But the Black Cats chief insists no deals are imminent, saying: "I go to watch Newcastle reserve games, I go to watch reserve games for all the Premiership sides.

"It's just watching games and looking at players who are available. I'm not commenting on any of those players.

"If the need arises I might give a club a call and ask them for a player on loan. But it would be difficult at the moment because I would be trying to entice players here but not to play."

Transfer-listed defender Nicos Dabizas is also a player staying put - for the time being at least.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis admits he tried to sign the Greek international, but they could not afford the Newcastle centre-back's pay packet.

Pulis said: "We were hoping to get Dabizas, but he cost too much. And from the size of his wages I can understand that."

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