Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick has promised long-suffering Jets fans an A-League import signing of the highest quality is on the way.
Source:
AAP
13 Sep 2017 - 5:49 PM  UPDATED 13 Sep 2017 - 5:49 PM

But he won't say if it's Argentine Patito Rodriguez.

Merrick denied reports he intervened to personally withdraw a contract offer for the 27-year-old, who plays for Greek side AEK Athens and previously spent two seasons alongside Neymar at Brazilian club Santos.

But he's also refused to confirm whether the Jets are still in negotiations with Rodriguez, saying he will be happy with any of the names from the "best possible" shortlist the club has compiled.

"If my name's been mentioned anywhere, I don't know why," Merrick told reporters on Wednesday.

"I don't deal with agents or clubs, that's Joel (Griffiths) and Lawrie (McKinna).

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"They've made it quite clear always that there's been a shortlist.

"I've identified the number one and if we don't get him we'll go for the number two or number three and I have to say, I'll be happy with both."

It's expected the new addition will be a marquee player and will round out Merrick's squad, although an additional Chinese player may also be signed at the behest of owner Martin Lee.

"To add another senior high-quality player would be very good for us... someone with good experience, maybe at European level, South American level, international level," Merrick said.

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"Someone who can take a game by the scruff of its neck and do things from free kicks, corner kicks, play through passes, score goals.

"We think we've got the best possible shortlist and hopefully we'll get the number one from that list."

Rodriguez, who Greek website Sportotal.gr said was "very likely" to seal a move to Newcastle, would fit the bill nicely as a dynamic attacking player with a strong pedigree in South America.

The Jets have not made the A-League finals for the past seven seasons and are looking for a quick turnaround under Merrick.

The experienced coach quit Wellington Phoenix eight games into last season after a string of poor results.