Newcastle United have been given permission to speak to Wigan Athletic striker Arouna Kone, the Press Association has reported.
Kone, 29, has said he wants to leave the Latics after their relegation from the Premier League, and Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has said he can leave for £5 million.
Everton, the club most strongly linked with a move for Kone, are believed to remain confident that he will join them, and Roberto Martinez is adamant that his age will not prevent him from being an Everton success if a deal goes through.
The striker turns 30 in November, and his signing would appear to go against a Goodison Park transfer policy that is more focused on bringing in young players with a high potential sell-on value.
But new Everton manager Martinez, who brought Kone to Wigan from Levante for £4 million last summer, has no concerns about taking him to Merseyside and said the Ivory Coast forward is “at the peak of his career”.
That is despite the fact that he was sidelined for a long spell by a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in 2008.
Whelan confirmed on Wednesday that Everton were one of three clubs who had made an offer for Kone.
Martinez told the Liverpool Echo: “Arouna had a big injury to his cruciate. That can sometimes be negative, but in his case it was the opposite. It refreshed him, and he is a young 29 years old.
“He’s at the peak of his career. When you get a player who is – from the physical point of view to the tactical and the technical – in peak condition, it excites you. And that’s where Arouna is.
“He had a fantastic move from Holland to Sevilla for big, big money, where he had a little bit of trouble with inconsistency and injuries, but now he is back to his very, very best and he will be a big asset.
“Everyone would understand that he brings something different to what we have at the football club at the moment.”
Kone scored 13 goals for Martinez at Wigan last season, but was unable to prevent them from falling into the Championship.
The manager said: “Nothing has been confirmed with Arouna yet [about a move to Goodison]. But it has been made public that we have made an approach, and we’re still dealing with it.”
Kone, who began his career in Ivory Coast with Rio Sport, had a spell in Belgium with Lierse and then moved to the Netherlands for stints with Roda and PSV before joining Sevilla in 2007.
He was then loaned to German club Hannover before moving to Levante and later joining Wigan.
“He’s a very complete striker,” Martinez added. “You don’t get many foreign strikers who come to this league and settle in straight away and be consistent over a season, but Arouna did that.
“He’s powerful, his play with his back to the game is very strong, he links up really well, he can see a pass in the final third and he is a clinical finisher.”
Meanwhile, England youth international Luke Garbutt has signed a new two-year contract with Everton.
The 20-year-old left-back, who arrived from Leeds in 2009, spent last season on loan at League Two side Cheltenham. He has just returned from Turkey, where he represented England at the Under-20 World Cup.