The 23-year-old's unhappy Liverpool spell looks to be reaching its conclusion, but the Magpies must be confident of the benefits if they are to diverge from their transfer policyCOMMENT
By Andrew Kennedy
Since his January 2011 deadline day move, the striker has felt backlash from the hype which greeted his debut Premier League season, and the 23-year-old’s turbulent spell at Anfield has been well documented, with a return of 11 goals in 56 appearances in all competitions testing the mettle of even the most patient fans on the Kop.
A brief end-of-season resurgence for the Reds, including two goals at Wembley as the club reached the FA Cup final, resulted in an England call-up; and Carroll continued to impress at Euro 2012, scoring a well-taken header in the 3-2 group stage victory over Sweden.
While a return to form has not proved enough to convince new boss Brendan Rodgers that the forward has a significant role to play on Merseyside, a host of top-flight sides would relish the chance to take a gamble on Carroll, with Newcastle the first to show their cards.
A reunion with his hometown club would not be a step back for the forward – especially after his regression at Liverpool – and at face value, the move seems beneficial for the Magpies.
Alan Pardew’s men will not only look to cement their Premier League position this year but also have the added fixture congestion brought by their Europa League participation, meaning reinforcements are a must.
| CARROLL'S RECORD AT NEWCASTLE
|CARROLL'S RECORD AT LIVERPOOL|
The assumption that Carroll is purely a big man up top is a myth he must now dispel, having displayed a turn of pace and neat touch in his previous stint at the Sports Direct Arena.
His arrival would also provide alternatives to Newcastle’s fluid style – an option that could be utilised if Senegalese duo Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba depart for January’s African Cup of Nations.
Yet since Carroll’s deadline day departure, Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr have embarked upon a prudent transfer policy which has reaped some serious rewards, a trend which the Gateshead-born player’s return would buck.
The club’s initial bid to take Carroll on loan with a view to a £13m permanent move was turned down by Liverpool, yet if Newcastle were to come closer to the £20m price-tag placed on the striker by Anfield chiefs, such an investment would no longer appear as shrewd.
In the context of the England international’s record-breaking transfer fee, the relative cut-price deal the Magpies could agree seems to be a smart move, yet when compared to other options available in the market, including previous target Luuk de Jong - who has moved from Twente to Borussia Monchengladbach - Newcastle would be paying over the odds for the striker.
Carroll’s return may also rock the boat at the Gallowgate, with the bandwagon surrounding the 6ft 3in striker potentially destabilising a unified squad.
Pardew successfully kept the dissent shown from Ba under wraps after the 27-year-old’s striking opportunities dried up last season – but, with a number of clubs believed to be chasing his signature, would the former West Ham man be happy to jostle for position with Carroll to partner Cisse up top?
And is a striker, particularly at such expense, a priority for the club? Leon Best’s switch to Blackburn means attacking reinforcements are needed, but with Mike Ashley keeping the purse strings tight, a big money move could limit necessary improvements in other areas of the field.
A deal for Lille full-back Mathieu Debuchy is close, but if Newcastle are to maintain the top-four challenge they launched last season, another central defender is also essential, particularly with Mike Williamson’s limitations beginning to show towards the end of the previous campaign.
In spite of the criticism faced by Carroll, there is little doubt at the age of 23 he has the potential to develop into a real force in the Premier League, and a return to his old stomping ground could breed the confidence needed for him to become the player Liverpool parted such a large sum of cash for.
Yet for Newcastle, if they are to diverge from their sound business ethic of recent seasons, the risk could outweigh any possible gain.Follow Andrew Kennedy on