NEWCASTLE have made a shock raid for Jordan Pickford as they pick over the relegation wreckage at Sunderland.
The England keeper is a top target for Rafa Benitez ahead of Toon’s Premier League return.
Black Cats boss David Moyes is resigned to losing rising star Pickford, whose displays for the doomed Wearsiders have attracted interest from Everton, Manchester City, Arsenal and West Ham.
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The Toffees looked in pole position to agree a deal but Newcastle are now in the running as they are prepared to offer the 23-year-old — who is from Washington in the North East — a long-term contract and £75,000 a week.
Benitez has demanded a £100million transfer war chest to bolster Toon’s squad for the Prem — and the final say over who comes and goes.
If owner Mike Ashley snubs his plea, West Ham could try to lure Benitez to become their boss.
The pair are due for talks this week but Toon fans fear the Spaniard may quit if he fails to get his way.
Slaven Bilic has turned things round at the Hammers after a poor start this term.
But the club’s owners are determined to see the team push on in their second season at the London Stadium.
Any suggestion Benitez could leave St James’ Park may well spark a move for him to replace the Croatian in East London.