Newcastle search on as Luque bid fails

Whether or not that is another example of chairman Freddy Shepherd's brinksmanship or simply a refusal to meet what they believe is an inflated valuation of the player remains to be seen, but the fact is time is running out fast as they attempt to strengthen their frontline with two acquisitions.

Souness and Shepherd had hoped to have at least one new face on board before tonight's Premiership trip to Bolton, but they are now looking again at the list they drew up earlier this year and considering their options.

With Michael Owen tipped to return to Liverpool, it would seem that Fenerbahce's Nicolas Anelka and Fulham's Luis Boa Morte are more likely targets - although with both their clubs holding out for more money, Newcastle's intent will be tested.

"We are still pursuing, we are still active in certain areas," said Souness. "These people we are after are people that were on the list I gave to the chairman a long time ago."

Asked directly about his targets, he replied: "You can ask, but I am not telling you."

The Luque situation will have come as a blow to the Scot, who was hopeful of getting his man after agreeing personal terms at the weekend.

Newcastle are understood to have increased their bid from the £7.5m they had previously tabled, and Souness is adamant they will go no higher.

"As I understand it, no," he said. "I know what we have offered and I think it is a fantastic offer and certainly, that would be as far as I would want to go. I do not know how the chairman sees it, but it would be certainly as far as I would want to go for him.

"I understand that yesterday our final offer was rejected, so I think that one is finished, unfortunately. We have made a fantastic offer - there is a limit on how much you can spend on one player.

"Our valuation is different to their valuation. He is their player, he is contracted to them, so they call the shots. But right now at this point, we think that is too much."

The hunt for strikers has been ongoing all summer since it became obvious Craig Bellamy and Patrick Kluivert would be offloaded, and Souness is convinced key additions in that area will make all the difference.

"If we were to get the cutting edge, we would be scoring goals; if you are scoring goals, that gives you confidence, that gives you points, and then it is a very different picture," he said after seeing his side take one point from their first two league games and fail to score in either.

"It is not rocket science. If we could get a couple of players in that could both create and score goals, we would be a formidable team, a team that I would be happy to go anywhere with, whether it be Chelsea or Manchester United, Highbury, and get a result.

"We are very close to being a very good team, but that final ingredient will cost a lot of money, and that final ingredient, the ones that we want that are going to take us on to that level, they are players who are highly valued by the clubs they are at and they do not want to let them go.

"We somehow have to come up with a package which will be attractive to those clubs to let them go."

Shola Ameobi is available for the Bolton game after suspension, while Kieron Dyer, who will return from his trip to Germany to see renowned specialist Hans Moeller-Wohlfahrt tomorrow with a promising diagnosis on his bad back, could make Sunday's home clash with Manchester United. Emre, who is recovering from his hamstring injury, may also play.

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