Darren Bent has claimed that Newcastle United could be European football contenders next season if a “massive” takeover is completed. 

Speaking exclusively to Football Insiderthe former England striker suggested that the “crazy” injection of cash that would likely follow a buyout could be enough to catapult the Magpies into the upper reaches of the English game.

Speculation continues to mount over the prospect of Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed consortium taking over ownership from Mike Ashley on Tyneside, with a £300 million deal understood to be moving ever closer.

And Bent believes that a takeover, should it happen, would be a game-changer for the Toon Army.

Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “It would be massive.

Everybody has felt sorry for Newcastle over the last few years. They’re a big club – just look at some of the players they’ve had – but they’ve kind of fallen by the wayside a little bit.

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“If this is what we’re being led to believe and the takeover is going to happen, we’re being told these new owners are worth crazy money.

“If they somehow manage to get it over the line and there’s some real investment into the club… I think it would be too soon to start thinking about Champions League and the Premier League, but you’re certainly going to be in that European discussion.

“Obviously, it depends on the recruitment, and that’s got to be right, but I think coming out of this period we’re in now, if something can happen before we get back, that would give Newcastle fans something to look forward to.”

The Magpies have been under Ashley’s ownership since 2007, with the businessman attracting increasing fan unrest as his tenure has progressed.

Last summer saw United at the centre of a renewed raft of takeover speculation involving the Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group, but ultimately nothing came of it.

In other Newcastle United news, ‘Hell of a boost’ – Bruce reacts to big Toon update.