Aston Villa

Can Newcastle hold off PL challengers in chase for Leeds’ Beckford?

BeckfordUnsurprisingly Leeds United striker Jermaine Beckford has a whole host of clubs chasing him in the January transfer window due to his impressive scoring record in League 1 this season, as well as his winning goal against Manchester United in the FA Cup. Newcastle are the club who have been most heavily linked with the striker, but the Championship outfit are likely to face some stiff competition for Beckford and Leeds will not let go of him without a fight either. In the Premier League, Aston Villa, Fulham and Birmingham are all said to be interested, so which club will Beckford be playing for in February?

When the transfer window slams shut at the end of January, Beckford could still be a Leeds player despite the massive interest that he is attracting. Leeds have no obligation to sell him, although if Beckford gives an indication that he is unwilling to sign a new contract, then it may be best to cash in on the striker now rather than lose him for nothing when his contract expires in the summer. Leeds manager Simon Grayson told The Daily Star that “we are not looking to sell Jermaine but money talks with any player,” and a bid of over £2 million may be enough to prize him away from Elland Road. As far as Beckford himself may be concerned, staying at Leeds may be his best option as they are a club most definitely on the up and Premier League football might not be that far away, but a move must be tempting for the 26 year old.

Newcastle are the club who have shown the greatest interest in signing Beckford in the near future and he would be a great addition to their squad. He would provide some stiff competition for Shola Ameobi, Andy Carroll and Nile Ranger, and bring a bit of pace and a different option to what they already have. It is hardly a secret that the Magpies are looking to sign Beckford either, with manager Chris Hughton telling Sky Sports that “he’s one of a few players we are interested in.” Although he would have to fight for his place, Beckford would have a good chance of going straight into the first team at St James’ Park, which cannot necessarily be said if he moved elsewhere. Newcastle remain odds on favourites to be Beckford’s next club, and I think it would be a move that would be good for both player and club.

If Beckford doesn’t stay at Leeds but doesn’t sign for Newcastle, then it is anyone’s guess as to where he may end up. Aston Villa have emerged as surprise second favourites, while Birmingham and Fulham have all also been credited with an interest. Martin O’Neill has a preference for signing British players and Beckford could well fit in well at Villa Park, with Emile Heskey possibly leaving in the near future. Fulham’s interest could well strengthen in the coming days as well, as an injury to Bobby Zamora leaves them short up front, and Beckford could learn a thing or two under the guidance of one of the best managers in the Premier League in Roy Hodgson. Finally Birmingham have plenty of cash to spend and are in need of another striker, and McLeish could do a lot worse than look in Beckford’s direction.

So where will Beckford end up at the end of the month? It could be any of the above clubs or even someone I haven’t mentioned, such as Bolton, Stoke or Sunderland. Newcastle have realised that they have to move fast before interest from the Premier League strengthens and are in pole position for his signature. But a stay at Leeds isn’t out of the question, as Beckford faces a difficult and important decision in the coming weeks. Where do you think Jermaine Beckford will end up?

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