It remains a long shot, but Liverpool's apparent willingness to do business could see Andy Carroll end up at West Ham...
"West Ham have arranged to pay £2 million to take the England international on loan with a £17 million fee making the switch permanent to follow at the end of the season provided they stay up."
The chances of the most expensive player in British history joining the Championship play-off winners 18 months after his record-breaking transfer have increased with reports that West Ham have struck a deal with Liverpool for Andy Carroll.
According to the BBC, the Premier League newcomers have arranged to pay £2 million to take the England international on loan with a £17 million fee making the switch permanent to follow at the end of the season provided they stay up.
Other media sources claim to have received denials from West Ham and Liverpool that a move is close, however the BBC are unusually insistent despite tending to act with caution when it comes to portraying rumour as fact, suggesting that there is substance to the story.
It could therefore be that West Ham have had an offer accepted but, owing to a lack of faith from both parties in Carroll being tempted, neither see any merit in confirming it.
Liverpool (3.7511/4 for a top-four finish) won't want to publicly show their eagerness to get shot of the striker in case it hurts their bargaining position later in the window, and the Irons don't want to raise supporters' hopes too much while completion remains unlikely.
Carroll doesn't want to leave and, even if forced, is reluctant to agree to a loan with an option to buy as he intends to perform impressively enough to change Brendan Rodgers' perception of him. Or, if you're a bit more cynical, because he thinks that the new Reds manager will be gone by next summer.
It is also reasonable to assume that the £35 million man expects to be able to attract a higher calibre of suitor than newly promoted West Ham, whose top selling points are a style of play suited to his strengths and a reunion with mentor Kevin Nolan.
The 23-year-old would prefer a campaign back at Newcastle, who in addition to the familiarity factor can provide European football and the prospect of a top-six challenge, rated at 4.216/5 on Betfair.