The contract situation that could see Newcastle seal a stunning move for Mario Balotelli

Newcastle are reportedly eyeing Mario Balotelli
Newcastle are reportedly eyeing Mario Balotelli

Newcastle United have been linked with a surprise swoop for former Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.

The Italian, who has previously featured in the Premier League for the Reds and Manchester City, is reportedly being eyed by the Magpies as Rafa Benitez looks to bolster his attacking options.

Reports from the Mirror claim that Benitez is prepared to turn his attentions to the controversial 28-year-old - who looks set to leave current side Nice in the near future.

The Ligue 1 side, who are currently managed by ex-Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, have allowed the frontman some time off from training after he failed to commit his future to the club.

Balotelli's current contract expires in the summer and talks with Nice have stalled, with the club's president stating in recent weeks that he may allow the striker to leave.

That has seen the door opened for a January exit, with Newcastle believed to be preparing to pounce.

And Vieira has hinted that an exit could be possible should a 'common agreement' be found.

"I have given Mario a few extra days off to think about his future and what he wants to do,” he said.

“He’s under contract here and everything is possible, if we can come to a common agreement who knows.

"When it comes to Mario, I want to answer back, or just slam him up against the wall or leave him hanging by his collar on the coat rack, but I can’t, as I’m no longer a player.

“I don’t want to say something I’ll regret. I am trying to be constructive in my comments to him.”