Kevin Keegan would have loved Jonathan Woodgate to become the first piece of his Newcastle 'jigsaw', but the former England defender now looks set to join Tottenham.
Both Barclays Premier League clubs had been given permission to speak to the Middlesbrough centre-back, with a fee of around £8million understood to have been agreed.
Woodgate left the Magpies to join Real Madrid in 2004, and the 28-year-old was not included in Middlesbrough's squad for their FA Cup match at Mansfield today.
However, it now seems the defender could undergo a medical in north London this evening and will be moving to White Hart Lane rather than staying in the north-east.
After today's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round, Newcastle manager Keegan said: 'I tried to bring in one new face, but I do not think I have been successful in that, from what I am hearing now.
'Last time I was here, we built it up, and I wanted Jonathan Woodgate as the first part of that jigsaw. But it looks like I have not got him.
'I think he will go somewhere else. I think Tottenham and us were the clubs who had bids accepted.'
Keegan added: 'It is not an issue over the fee, definitely.'
Earlier Boro boss Gareth Southgate confirmed after his side's 2-0 victory at Mansfield that the England international had been allowed to talk to both clubs.
Southgate said: 'The latest is that we have given him permission to speak to Newcastle and to Tottenham.
'I think a fee is agreed with Newcastle, but I don't know if a fee is agreed with Tottenham.
'He has got a decision to make, whether he wants to be part of what we are doing or whether he wants to move on somewhere else.'
Speculation has been rife for days over Woodgate's future, with Spurs' interest emerging in the wake of speculation the Magpies were ready to make their move.
Southgate insisted yesterday he does not have to sell any of his players, and admitted he would only consider letting any of them leave if he already had enough cover or a target lined up.
'We have got strength in the centre-half areas that's for sure, but it's most importantly about what Jonathan's feelings are,' Southgate said.
'If he wants to be part of what we are doing, then fantastic, and we are delighted to have him with us.
'If he feels it's the right thing to move on, then he goes with our best wishes.'
Asked if he had spoken to Woodgate about his future, the manager said: 'I have done that throughout the season. I have had plenty of conversations with him.
'He has got the opportunity now to make the decision he wants to make.'