Newcastle United are ready to get shirty with target Charlie Austin – and offer him the famous No9 jersey.
The Queens Park Rangers striker is high on the club’s summer shopping list.
But Newcastle, yesterday linked with Watford’s Troy Deeney and West Ham United’s Diafra Sakho, face competition for Austin’s signature.
The 25-year-old scored 18 goals for QPR’s last season.
And Premier League champions Chelsea and Liverpool are also reportedly interested in Austin.
Papiss Demba Cisse has worn the club’s iconic No9 jersey for the past three and a half seasons, but the 29-year-old is likely to leave St James’s Park this summer.
Cisse ended last season as the club’s top scorer with 11 goals – despite missing much of the season through injury and suspension.
The Senegal international has two more years on his United contract, and is understood to be open to a move away from the club he joined in January 2012.
Cisse, knowing his next contract will almost certainly be his last big deal, is said to be looking a wage of £80,000-a-week.
Newcastle, however, will be looking to recoup much of the £10m fee they paid for him when he joined from Freiburg.
The club is looking to sign two strikers – Wolfsburg’s Bas Dost is another target – and any fee for Cisse would go into the club’s summer transfer kitty following owner Mike Ashley’s pledge last month to “invest” in the squad.
Cisse’s departure would also free up the No9 jersey, which will be used to tempt Austin to St James’s Park.
The iconic shirt, ironically, was worn by QPR director of football Les Ferdinand before Alan Shearer’s arrival in 1996.
Shearer, the club’s all-time record goalscorer, implored Austin to come to United on Twitter earlier this month after he said his record of 260 Premier League goals would never be broken.
“Why don’t you come up here and try?! #9,” tweeted Shearer.
However, Newcastle must first agree a fee with QPR for Austin, signed from Burnley for £4m two years ago.
QPR are looking to net £15m – the same fee that United paid for Shearer – for the recent England call-up, who has one year left on his contract.