NEWCASTLE UNITED are hoping to sign unsettled AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek this month, but have accepted they are unlikely to be able to prise Olivier Giroud from Chelsea.

Newcastle officials raised the possibility of signing Giroud on a season-long loan at the start of the month, but Chelsea are reluctant to lose the Frenchman without a replacement and Giroud has indicated he does not want to join a club that are not playing in Europe or competing for silverware.

The Magpies have also been rebuffed by Rangers after inquiring about Alfredo Morelos, so have turned their attention to Piatek as they look to recruit a forward before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

A Poland international who is regarded as an ‘old-fashioned number nine’, 24-year-old Piatek joined AC Milan in a €35m move from Genoa last January.

However, he struggled to establish himself at the San Siro in the second half of last season and has suffered another disappointing run of performances in the current campaign, scoring just one goal from open play.

Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s recent move to Milan has shuffled him down the pecking order, and while he previously expressed a desire to remain and fight for his place in the second half of the season, sources in Italy claim he has now accepted he will have to move on to safeguard his place in the Poland squad for Euro 2020.

Milan are willing to listen to offers for a loan or permanent transfer, and Newcastle’s preference would be a loan deal to the end of the season with a clause in place for a permanent switch in the summer.

However, the Magpies will have to fend off competition from a number of different quarters if they are to land Piatek this month.

Aston Villa have expressed an interest as they look to secure a replacement for the injured Wesley Moraes, but the strongest move so far has come from the Bundesliga with German side Bayer Leverkusen having approached the AC Milan hierarchy to discuss a deal.

Fiorentina are another club to have been heavily linked, but it is understood Leverkusen are currently the closest to striking a deal. Newcastle are yet to make a formal offer of their own, although they have made initial soundings to both Milan officials and Piatek’s representatives.

Newcastle were also linked with former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel yesterday, with the Turkish media claiming they had used an intermediary to approach the Dutchman, who has submitted a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move from his current employers, Galatasaray.

Babel, who boasts five goals and one assist in the Turkish Super Lig this season, is involved in an ongoing pay dispute with Galatasaray, who offered the 33-year-old a three-year deal when they signed him this summer.

It is hard to imagine Mike Ashley being interested in a player approaching his mid-30s, but Steve Bruce has expressed a desire to add some Premier League experience to his squad.

Bruce has previously claimed he would be willing to adopt a watching brief this month, but his stance is likely to be influenced by what happens with Dwight Gayle.

Gayle is understood to be keen to leave Tyneside this month in an attempt to secure regular first-team football, but while he is attracting plenty of interest from the Championship, the financial practicalities of any deal make it unlikely he will be heading to the second tier.

Newcastle will want to recoup the majority of the £15m they spent to sign Gayle if they are to sell him permanently this month, and will only agree to a loan if any temporary employer was to commit to paying the striker’s £50,000-a-week wages in full. While the likes of Nottingham Forest and Leeds United have been linked with a possible move, it is hard to see how either could make those sums add up.

Gayle missed last weekend’s FA Cup draw at Rochdale after joining Newcastle’s list of injury absentees at the end of the week, but the Magpies should welcome six players back into the fold ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Wolves.

Gayle, Jetro Willems, Paul Dummett and Ciaran Clark all trained on Monday, while Miguel Almiron and Andy Carroll re-joined the first-team group at Newcastle’s Darsley Park training complex yesterday. The sextet should all be available for the trip to Molineux, along with Matt Ritchie, who came through his return to action at Rochdale unscathed.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles are unlikely to feature this weekend, but the former has stepped up his training programme as he approaches the end of his recovery from a hamstring tear while the latter, who fractured his tibia against Bournemouth in November, is expected to return to training later this week.