By Will Butcher
Newcastle are eyeing a move for Southampton forward Jay Rodriguez as they look to bolster their squad with Premier League talent, according to a report.
The Daily Mail claims manager Rafa Benitez is keen to sign Rodriguez but will face competition from West Brom, who tried to sign the 27-year-old for £12million in the January window.
It is believed that the Toon have added Rodriguez to a shortlist that includes Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross and Fulham playmaker Tom Cairney, as they edge closer to promotion.
Rodriguez is said to be frustrated at St. Mary’s Stadium under manager Claude Puel, with the likes of Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long preferred over the one-time England international.
Southampton’s number nine has made just eight starts in England’s top flight this season, scoring four goals and providing another assist during his 19 Premier League appearances.
Since his move to the south coast from Burnley in the summer of 2012, Rodriguez has scored 34 goals and provided a further 13 assists in 121 league and cup appearances for the club.
With a contract until the summer of 2019, the striker could now be signed by former Liverpool boss Benitez as he looks to build a squad capable of staying in the Premier League next term.
Football Insider verdict:
The signing of Rodriguez would prove a major transfer coup next season if Benitez can pull off a deal that would see the striker move north to Tyneside. Able to provide both goals and assists, Rodriguez could hold the key to Premier League survival next season as the Toon look to reassert themselves as a top-flight club. However, bringing in Rodriguez would see Benitez have four strikers looking to start in a system that includes only one centre-forward. The Spaniard, then, must offload one if not two of his strikers to make room for Rodriguez. That could spell the end of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s north east stay, who has been used only intermittently this season.
In other Newcastle transfer news, Isaac Hayden has revealed why he chose the Toon over Premier League sides.