A £15m West Ham bid for Andy Carroll last night sparked off a tug-of-war with former club Newcastle.
Promoted Hammers have made a club record offer to sign the Liverpool striker permanently.
But Newcastle yesterday made contact with Kop bosses and tabled an offer to take him on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent switch.
And although Liverpool last night rejected Toon’s offer, sources hinted Carroll would welcome a return to his home- town club, who sold him to Liverpool for £35m inJanuary of last year.
West Ham are desperate to mark their return to the Premier League with a move for the England international and had also been considering a season-long loan.
But it is understood Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has now decided he wants to sign Carroll outright and is ready to break the bank to do it.
The England striker is back from holiday this week, but remains desperate to prove his worth to new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
The 23-year-old will hold talks with Rodgers when he joins up with the squad on their pre-season tour of the USA and will try to persuade him he can fit in with his plans.
But after the arrival of Fabio Borini from Roma for £10.5m, the big hitman’s Anfield days appear to be numbered.
Aston Villa, Fulham and AC Milan have also expressed an interest.
But West Ham hope the presence of Carroll’s good friend and ex-Newcastle team-mate Kevin Nolan at Upton Park will swing it.
The pair lived together as part of Carroll’s bail conditions while he awaited trial on an assault charge.
The Hammers’ current record transfer fee is the £10m paid to Brescia for Savio Nsereko in 2009.
Villa boss Paul Lambert yesterday confirmed they want Carroll on loan, saying: “If we could get him, it would be great.”
Meanwhile, Darren Bent has emerged as a strong contender to skipper Villa in the absence of Stiliyan Petrov, who is fighting leukaemia.
Fit-again Bent wore the armband during Saturday’s 2-1 friendly win at Burton.