When Alan Pardew was asked about Carroll on Wedneday the Newcastle manager's answers proved ambiguous. "I've always said it's not really down to me," he said. "Would I want him in my squad? Of course I would. Probably every Premier League manager in the country would want him in their squad. But can the business deal be done? That's nothing to do with me."
Speaking ahead of the second leg of Newcastle's Europa League qualifier against Atromitos of Greece on Thursday, Pardew initially seemed to all but admit defeat in his attempt to re-recruit the striker he sold to Liverpool for £35m in January 2011. Asked if Carroll's arrival was still a possibility he said: "Not as far as I'm aware, no."
A subsequent query relating to the possibility of Newcastle making further offers for the England forward was met by exactly the same response, but when it was suggested that any deal was now dead, Pardew demurred. "I didn't say that," he said.
For the moment, Pardew is concentrating on turning a 1-1 first-leg draw in Athens into the home, and aggregate, win that would propel Newcastle into Friday's draw for the group stages of the Europa League.
"Anybody who knows me and who knows my management would tell you that I'm desperate to win something," said Pardew. "I think I've got a team that potentially can do that. Will we win the Premier League? I think that's probably beyond us with the size of squads that Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have got. It makes it very, very difficult for us to bridge that gap, unless we get into the Champions League.
"I still think that's our best route to grow as a club. Having said that, a cup win would certainly raise our fans' morale and the club's morale and that's something I'm working on as much as a Champions League position."
Achieving such success would be a much more viable prospect if Pardew could keep his best players while strengthening the squad with signings such as Carroll, Lille's France right-back Mathieu Debuchy and FC Twente's Brazilian centre-half Douglas.
While the latter two long-term transfer targets now look extremely unlikely to end up on Tyneside by 11pm on Friday, Pardew – whose sole first-team signing this summer has been the midfielder Vurnon Anita from Ajax – remains quietly confident of holding on to key players such as Cheik Tiote, Fabricio Coloccini and Yohan Cabaye.
"We're working very hard to keep the great players we've worked very hard to bring to this club," said Pardew. "I'd be 100% happy to go with the squad we've got at the moment, but we're also watching the market. At the moment, though, the targets we have are all very secure at their clubs."
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