By Greg Stobart
Tottenham Hotspur are ready to step up their pursuit of Newcastle United star Andy Carroll with a £15 million bid as it appears increasingly likely the striker could be sold in January.
Goal.com UK understands Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is ready to offer out-of-favour players Robbie Keane and David Bentley in the deal as he looks to add firepower to his forward line.
The 21-year-old is seen by Tottenham as their most attainable target in the new year, and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley appears prepared to cash in on his hottest talent despite public statements that Carroll is not for sale.
Newcastle are likely to hold out for a deal worth £20m, and new Toon boss Alan Pardew has been made aware that such a deal would be hard to turn down for the cash-strapped club.
As Goal.com UK revealed last month, Carroll would be prepared to leave St James' Park despite recently signing a five-year contract at the club he supported as a boy.
Carroll, who has scored 10 Premier League goals this season, is happy on Tyneside but there is a feeling among people close to him that he may have to leave the area to settle down after a series of controversies off the pitch.
Manchester United and Chelsea are both tracking the England international but Tottenham have shown the most serious interest and are ready to test Ashley's resolve with a £15m opening offer.
Close Attention | Carroll is catching the eye and Spurs are the most interested club
Spurs are desperate for a striker to lead the line and Carroll has shot to the top of Redknapp's list of targets since the club made a tentative approach towards the end of the summer transfer window.
Current strikers Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Peter Crouch and Keane have all been in indifferent form so far this season but a potential January move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema now appears very unlikely.
Redknapp feels Carroll would be a low-risk signing as he has proven his ability to score goals in the Premier League and he is not cup-tied in the Champions League, meaning he would be able to play in the club's last 16 clash with AC Milan in February and March.
Chairman Daniel Levy is also prepared to sanction a move as the Gateshead-born forward is unlikely to lose resale value, although he remains wary after Darren Bent and David Bentley both failed at White Hart Lane following big money moves.
Redknapp has been told he needs to trim his squad before he can buy, with Keane, Bentley and Giovani dos Santos almost certain to leave in January.
While there has already been plenty of interest in all three players, the Londoners would like to agree a part-exchange deal for Carroll rather than a straight cash move.
“Despite what Newcastle are saying, everyone in football thinks Andy Carroll will be sold if a decent offer comes in,” a souce told Goal.com UK.
“It's also no secret that Harry Redknapp has started banging the drum to convince his chairman to sign him – he thinks Carroll could be a monster for Spurs.”
If Carroll is sold in January, it would make Ashley even more unpopular after the surprise sacking of Chris Hughton as manager.
But the Newcastle owner has repeatedly shown he has little regard for supporter feeling and will act in what he feels is the best interests of his £300m investment in the north-east club.
It also remains unclear how Carroll has been affected by the departure of Hughton, whom he held in high regard and respected greatly for sticking by him during his personal travails.
Pardew has been told that, like Hughton, he will have limited funds available in January and may even welcome the chance to have some money to build his own team.
But Pardew expressed his determination to keep the striker when he was unveiled as manager earlier this month, saying: "Andy Carroll's future was one of the items at the top of my agenda. He needs to stay. He is the No.9 of Newcastle. He is someone the fans have bought into.
"As long as I am here I will be doing everything I can to make sure he stays. In the short term he is staying."