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Blackburn Rovers close in on Toon striker Best
BLACKBURN Rovers resumed talks with Leon Best’s representatives yesterday as they look to finalise a deal for the Newcastle striker and fend off interest from rival clubs.
Rovers have already agreed a fee with the Magpies for the Republic of Ireland international, understood to be in the region of £3m, and will be eager to complete the transfer quickly amid interest from Premier League sides Southampton and Norwich.
Rovers met Best’s agent yesterday as further discussions were held over personal terms for the 25-year-old.
Southampton are said to have been weighing up a bid to take the forward back to the south coast, after starting his career at St Mary’s in 2004.
Saints, however, do already have fierce competition in the striker department after boss Nigel Adkins recently added Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez to a front line containing Rickie Lambert and Billy Sharp.
Norwich have also been linked following the appointment of Chris Hughton - the manager who took Best to Newcastle from Coventry two years ago.
But Steve Kean also knows Best, having worked with him during a spell as assistant to Chris Coleman at Coventry, and Rovers are still believed to be in pole position to complete a deal.
Rovers want to bolster their strike force, with Yakubu set to complete a £1m move to Chinese side Guangzhou R&F because of a relegation exit clause in his Ewood contract, and are likely to be able to offer the striker regular football – albeit in the Championship.
Kean is also due to lose attacking option Junior Hoilett this summer as the Canadian opts to move elsewhere at the end of his Rovers deal.
Best has scored 10 Premier League goals since joining Newcastle but has found himself further down the pecking order at St James’ Park following the arrival of Demba Ba and then Papiss Cisse.
He has made seven appearances for the Republic of Ireland since 2009, qualifying for the country through his mother’s side of the family, but was overlooked by Giovanni Trapattoni for the squad for Euro 2012.
If Rovers were able to complete a deal he would become the club’s second signing of the summer after midfielder Danny Murphy, who finalised a two-year deal with the club on Monday following the end of his contract at Fulham.