By Harry Sykes
Newcastle have tabled a club-record £16million bid for Everton midfielder James McCarthy, according to a report.
The Mail claim that Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has responded by telling the Championship big hitters that McCarthy is not for sale.
It is said that Newcastle have identified McCarthy as a proven performer who can help them take the final steps to instant promotion back to the Premier League.
Manager Rafael Benitez is trying to assemble a squad that is capable of thriving in the top flight next season.
The mammoth bid for McCarthy matches the club-record sum Newcastle paid for Michael Owen when they signed him from Real Madrid in 2005.
It is also the biggest of the Mike Ashley era, surpassing the £14.5million sum paid to prise Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2015.
Everton’s emphatic decision will be a blow to Newcastle, who have been strongly linked with a pursuit of the Republic of Ireland international during the January window.
McCarthy has been only a bit-part figure at Goodison Park this season but manager Ronald Koeman does not appear ready to sell him.
McCarthy was a regular under Roberto Martinez but has slipped down the central midfield pecking order following up the successful signing of Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa last summer, and Koeman has further bolstered the ranks by recently signing Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United for a fee rising to £24million.
McCarthy joined Everton from Wigan in the summer of 2013 for a fee of £13million and has made 122 appearances for the Merseysiders, scoring five goals.
The midfielder, who has been capped 41 times by the Republic of Ireland, has made just nine appearances in all competitions this season spread across 540 minutes of action.
In other Newcastle transfer news, the club are ironing out the final details of a landmark midfielder deal.