Alan Pardew reiterated his desire to pursue former player Andy Carroll to reporters on Friday while calling signing a "top-level" striker a priority for the summer.
It's long been speculated that Newcastle have been interested in re-purchasing Carroll after famously selling him to Liverpool for £35 million in January 2011. The rumored price for his services is in the £14-17 million range, a figure West Ham United have apparently balked at. Strangely enough, the 25% sell-on clause has given Newcastle bargaining power (e.g. a 20 million bid would effectively be 15 million), though it remains to be seen if either club will come close to meeting Liverpool's valuation. Brendan Rodgers has made no secret of his desire to rid himself of the Andy Carroll problem, and there appears to be no room for the Geordie in the Liverpool formation. It will be interesting to see how far the price falls as Pardew and Sam Allardyce play bidding games in the media.
If Pardew is able to outmaneuver Big Sam and get the former #9 shirt across the line, he will have the target man he has been missing. The presence of Andy Carroll at the top of the formation would not automatically solve Newcastle's set piece woes, though it would help. At least half the equation has to be deliveries. It is telling that the most consistent crossers on the team that regularly receive playing time are probably Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa, two players whose playing styles dictate that they spend their energy on more worthwhile pursuits than bombing searching balls into the box. In order to take advantage of Carroll's physical presence, Pardew would have to make a commitment to a player like Sylvain Marveaux and/or pursue a winger with some crossing ability and the desire to link the midfield with the final third. We don't know what kind of budget Mike Ashley will be handing down for the summer, but it's possible an expensive Carroll transfer fee (not to mention the wage he would command) would preclude the club from snatching up the complementary players that would be required spending as well.