Date: 18th May 2019 at 6:45am
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Fans around Tyneside have been crying out for the club to make Salomon Rondon’s loan from West Bromwich Albion permanent, but the board’s – and more importantly owner Mike Ashley’s – reluctance to trigger his release clause has opened the door for growing Premier League opposition.

Wolverhampton Wanderers were already thought to be keen on the 29-year-old striker, as they look for players who can support club record signing Raul Jimenez next season. But now it seems it is the turn of West Ham United.

The Northern Echo understand the East London outfit have shown a willingness to beat us to the punch and trigger Rondon’s release clause, now that the Baggies are unable to move back into the top-flight and thus his £16.5million option was locked in.

A decision on whether we retain the £60,000-a-week forward or not will likely be made over the coming days, so long as Rafa Benitez’s contract talks end positively.

But when the Spaniard met with Ashley on Friday, things ended unsatisfactory as the initial round of discussions failed to reach a definitive conclusion, with the length of the boss’ new contract one of the speculated sticking points.

The main ones, though, are thought to be finance related, as you would expect when it comes to Ashley, as Benitez is still seeking guarantees that there will be money to spend if he sticks around.

If there is money to spend and the gaffer remains at the helm for another year, we could be looking at rivalling Wolves and Crystal Palace for another striker, too.

The Sun believe we and the Molineux outfit have both been scouting Serie B forward David Okereke recently, as he is causing a stir in the Italian second-tier with his efforts to help Spezia return to the top-flight.

They also suggest the two of us are weighing up bids for the Lagos, Nigeria-born centre-forward. Palace, meanwhile, considered making a move for the 21-year-old over the winter, but opted against launching a bid at the time.

The Selhurst Park natives may return to their interest in the summer, though, but if they were to, would face fierce opposition from Inter Milan, who are expected to offer Okereke Italian top-flight football.

Spezia, for their part, would demand at least £8million for the highly-rated prospect – which may be appealing to Ashley, as Okereke would have a sizable resale value if he hit the ground running in England.

 
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