Carroll’s Euro ambition puts Newcastle back in hot seat
He may well have been loudly lampooned at the Sports Direct Arena on his last visit – booked for diving, booed by his fellow Geordies and finishing on the losing side – but it looks increasingly as if Andy Carroll will be making a return to his roots this summer.
New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that the big targetman is available for transfer – though not for loan – as he looks to reshape his squad in a manner that closely matches his possession football philosophy.
With this in mind, Rodgers has made Swansea midfielder Joe Allen a top target this summer, and will be hoping to use some money from the sale of Carroll to fund such a move.
Along with his former club Newcastle, where he scored 31 league goals in 57 starts, West Ham and Stoke have also been linked to the England striker this summer and should be able to match Liverpool’s asking price, thought to be around £20m.
However, having finished the season strongly, scoring in the FA Cup final and also netting for his country at Euro 2012, Carroll is confident he can still make a mark at Anfield and is keen to avoid being branded a flop – a scenario that would surely result from any early exit this summer.
And though Rodgers is publicly stating that the striker could fit into any new system, privately he’d be happy to recoup some of the £35m Kenny Dalglish saw fit to shell out last summer, particularly having already recruited a new striker in the shape of Fabio Borini from Parma.
It means Carroll is getting ready to make a reluctant exit, though will only do so on his terms – which include moving to a team with European football on the agenda this season. Obviously this discounts newly-promoted West Ham and a Stoke City side that failed to secure a European slot for a second season running.
It leaves last season’s surprise package Newcastle looking strong favourites to reclaim the man whose inflated transfer fee largely funded Alan Pardew’s impressive squad of cut-price, hungry youngsters from the continent.
It means that, after finishing in fifth place, the Magpies will begin their European campaign with a Europa League qualifying game next month. Victory may not only result in qualification to the group stages and chants of “Thursday night, Channel Five”, but it may also do enough to secure the signature of their hero-turned-bad boy.