Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew insists West Ham United target Joey Barton is a "big part of my plans." The Hammers have targeted a move for midfield dynamo Barton when the transfer window reopens next month.
Newcastle are thought to have rejected West Ham's opening offer, but the East Enders are believed to be ready to come back with an improved offer for the former Manchester City man.
Pardew has been impressed by Barton this season and he revealed he plans to hold talks with the midfielder over his future.
"He is a big part of my plans," Pardew said of Barton. "I am going to speak to Joey because there is no doubt this season has been a real turnaround for him.
"He still has that hot streak he showed the other day, but his performances have been excellent. He has been one of the top three players of the season."
Pardew also revealed he plans talks with the club over a permanent deal for on-loan Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa.
Ben Arfa is currently injured after breaking his leg against Manchester City in October, but the Frenchman impressed during his first few outings.
"He's in my thinking - strongly," Pardew said of Ben Arfa.
"I am going to speak to Derek (Llambias) about that and see if we can resolve it some way."
Meanwhile, Pardew has admitted he has spoken with chief scout Graham Carr about possible transfer targets.
"I've had a brief meeting about potential targets and positions with Graham Carr," continued Pardew.
"I still need to assess the group here. It would be unfair not to. But the window is an opportunity and you have to keep an eye on it.
"Hopefully it will be good news."