ZENDEN TOP PRIORITY FOR MAGPIES
By Peter O`Rourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Magpies have been chasing the 24-year-old Dutchman for over a year and they are hoping to beat French outfit Lyon, who also agreed a fee with Barca, to the player's signature.
The former PSV Eindhoven star has been told he is surplus to requirements at Camp Nou and that he can leave as Barca try to recoup some money from their large transfer spending spree.
The Catalan club's vice-president Angel Fernandez revealed that the club had "closed the sale of two players" though he did not name the departing duo.
Spanish sources claim the two players being off-loaded are Zenden and Portuguese international winger Simao Sabrosa, who is moving to Benfica in a £10 million deal.
The transfers will be made public if the players' respective personal terms have been agreed.
However, this may present an obstacle for the Tynesiders as it is understood they have had difficulty in contacting the player.
Lyon remain in the hunt for his signature and fresh talk from France suggests Vikash Dhorasoo could move to Camp Nou in exchange for Zenden.
Magpies boss Bobby Robson knows all about the qualities of Zenden having lined up his transfer to Barca from PSV Eindhoven during his time as chief scout at Camp Nou and he hopes he can provide the service for front duo Alan Shearer and Carl Cort next season.
No fee has been revealed, but Zenden is expected to meet Newcastle officials to discuss personal terms with the club, hoping to wrap up a deal soon, providing he can be persuaded to consider the switch to the North East of England.
The left-sided star prefers to join a club in the Champions League and it is believed he is not keen to move to Newcastle, preferring to wait for offers from elsewhere, or see out the remaining two years on his contract.
It is also being claimed in Catalunya that Chelsea are mounting a late bid for the £7 million-rated ace's signature, with his father and adviser, Pierre, admitting the most lucrative contract on offer should be enough to tempt his son into joining that club, something which could benefit Newcastle.
Should the wide man agree on a move to St James' Park he will become the third new arrival on Tyneside following Craig Bellamy from Coventry and Robbie Elliott from Bolton.
Zenden is rumoured to be seeking close to £1 million net a season, with his father said to be due to receive a comission of £385,000.
Paris Saint Germain star Robert was an alternative target but Luis Fernandez has made it clear he does not want the French international to leave.
"Laurent is not for sale," he stated. "To leave PSG during the year of the World Cup would not be the best thing for him.
"Here, I am very content with his state of mind. We need him in any case."