Newcastle have stepped up their bid to sign Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert. Magpies chairman Freddie Shepherd was at the Nou Camp on Sunday for specific talks with Barcelona president Joan Laporta following Barcelona's home defeat at the hands of Deportivo La Coruna. Injured Kluivert did not play in Barcelona's 2-0 defeat and has not yet scored for the Catalan club this season. That has led to jeers of frustration from the Catalan fans and Laporta could be tempted to cut the club's losses on the 27-year-old striker, whose current Barca deal runs until 2005. That renegotiated deal saw his annual salary of more than £4m halved, but also slashed the buy-out clause in his contract from a prohibitive £25m to a relatively modest £1.3m release fee. "It's true there is interest in signing Kluivert," Rijkaard told Catalan television on Sunday. "I want to speak with Patrick to see how he feels and what it is he wants. Depending on what he tells me, we'll see whether it's better for him to go or stay." "I do have confidence in Patrick's talent. He's a great player but he's suffering a lot in the Nou Camp. When he runs out, it seems the crowd are waiting for his first miss and that's negative for him and for the team." Kluivert was linked with a summer move to Manchester United, a rumour fuelled by Ruud van Nistelrooy's claims that his Dutch international team-mate could be poised for a move. But Laporta insists it will take a big offer from Newcastle to lure Kluivert away. He added: "Newcastle came here to invite us to play in a pre-season tournament and, while they were here, they asked us about Kluivert's situation.