As speculation rages regarding Wayne Rooney's future at Manchester United, news of an unlikely destination for the striker in the Premier League has emerged.
Newcastle United have suddenly become one the clubs hungry to add the England international to their ranks.
Rooney was targeted by Newcastle before he moved to United from Everton in 2004 – the Magpies offered the Toffees £25m for his services – and as extraordinary as it sounds, a deal this summer is not beyond the realms of possibility.
The Magpies have not been afraid to aim high in the transfer market in the past since Alan Shearer joined his hometown club in 1996 for the then world transfer record-breaking £15m.
Now that their Premier League future has been secured, United chiefs could open the chequebook again.
Some football fans, though, remain to be convinced by the story, dismissing it as a 'blatant publicity stunt.' The report on Sports Direct News, a subsidiary of Sports Directs, states that Newcastle "have already sounded out Rooney's agent over a potential move."
It adds that a source "close to negotiations" says: "Newcastle see Wayne as their ideal player. He's a strong centre-forward, would relate to the fans and would be a massive boost to the club's brand name.
"Low-level conversations have already been held between Newcastle and Rooney's agent, though the two clubs have not spoken directly yet."
Little credence has been put in the story with users on Twitter suggesting it is a cynical ploy to drive people to the Sports Direct website.
The high street retailer – for which Ashley (pictured) acts as executive deputy chairman – launched a sports news service last week to cover major sports.
The website carries advertising for Sports Direct products and promotions and is a joint venture – believed to have cost £1m to launch – between the retailer and media company, My London News.
But while Bayern Munich have dismissed claims they are interested in signing the 27-year-old, Newcastle United appear to have placed their cards on the table.
The unexpected interest from the north-east giants could provide a bizarre twist to the Rooney saga but there are also indications the striker is having a change of heart and now hopes to extend his stay at the Theatre of Dreams under new boss David Moyes.
Moyes, who successfully sued Rooney in 2008 for comments made in the former Everton hero's autobiography, has extolled a player whose future now lies in his hands once again.
"But I do see international games and you are talking about one of the best players in the world. If you are an England supporter, you are thinking what a great player you have.
"If you are from Scotland, you're saying, 'Oh no!' But he is a brilliant player. He has had a very good career."