NEWCASTLE United are in the hunt for Geordie striker Danny Graham, above, but could be pipped by QPR.
The Watford hitman is a transfer target for Alan Pardew as he looks to strengthen his forward options for next season.
United fan Graham would jump at the chance to sign for his boyhood heroes, but the Magpies – who have imposed a strict wage structure under Mike Ashley – are a long way off agreeing terms with the frontman.
QPR and Premier League outfit West Brom have had £2.5million bids for the 25-year-old rejected by Watford, with Rangers prepared to pay Graham £24,000-a-week in wages.
And while Newcastle remain keen on the player, they have indicated they are not willing to match that salary, leaving newly-promoted QPR in pole position for his signature.
Graham is keen to get his future sorted in the next few days, when he returns from a golfing holiday in Ireland.
A source close to the player said: “Newcastle is Danny’s preferred choice as he is a fan and if they can get a bit closer in wages then he would rather go there than QPR.
“His agent is delaying giving QPR an answer until Newcastle come back to them.”
Graham, who hails from Gateshead, smashed 27 goals this season for Watford, including 24 in the league as he finished as the Championship’s top scorer.
He started his career at Northern League side Chester-le-Street before signing for Middlesbrough in 2003.
His first-team chances were limited at Boro, and after loan spells at Darlington, Derby, Leeds and Blackpool, he joined Carlisle United in 2007.
A move to Watford followed and he equalled the Hornets’ club record of scoring in seven consecutive games earlier this year as his form saw him named in the PFA Championship Team of the Season at the end of the campaign.
Pardew is desperate to bolster his firepower this summer and has the proceeds of Andy Carroll’s £35m january move to Liverpool to play with.
He has been strongly linked with Lille attacker Gervinho and Lorient striker Kevin Gameiro, who Newcastle were reported to have made a £10m bid for this week.
However, Gameiro is believed to favour a move to Spain, with Valencia rekindling their interest in the France international.