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MLS first-half overachievers, underachievers

MLS All-Star Game
By ESPN Staff

Newcastle pull out of deal for Korean striker

Newcastle have pulled out of a move to sign South Korea striker Cho Jae-jin.

The Magpies held talks with the 26-year-old, who is out of contract with Japanese J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse, but have decided against a deal in the January transfer window.

A club spokesman said: 'The club has had discussions with the player and his representatives, but has decided not to proceed.'

Cho, who has scored eight times in 29 senior international appearances, is being courted by a series of Barclays Premier League clubs, according to agent Kim Min-jae, with Fulham and West Ham among those to have been linked with him in recent days.

Under-pressure Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce, working on a budget, is looking to strengthen his squad to turn around the club's chaotic season.

He will lose four players - including Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins - on African Nations Cup duty next month and should he allow the out-of-favour Shola Ameobi to leave, signing another forward would be a must.

But Allardyce expects England international Michael Owen to remain at St James' Park after Manchester City's interest dwindled, Mark Viduka is back in action after injury and Alan Smith has returned to his more favoured role.

At present the manager's main concerns remain his still shaky defence and a midfield which has been desperately short of creativity this season.