Hull City manager Phil Brown today unveiled two new players ahead of his side's Premier League curtain-raiser against Chelsea, and revealed Real Madrid's Alvaro Negredo could soon be joining them. Republic of Ireland international Stephen Hunt, 28, and 25-year-old Algeria forward Kamel Ghilas have joined from Reading and Celta Vigo respectively.
Los Merengues forward Negredo remains the principal target for Brown, who would have to smash the club's current transfer record to secure the £12m-rated Spaniard on a permanent deal.
Reflecting on the dual capture of Hunt and Ghilas, who have both agreed four-year deals for undisclosed fees, Brown said: "They are two more additions to our squad and they will help add strength and depth. Stephen is well known in the English leagues and we are hopeful he will add to the midfield with regard to scoring goals and providing goals.
"Kamel is a product of our scouting network. We've worked long and hard scanning France, Italy, Spain, Germany and one or two other areas. A lot of people may not know Kamel now, but hopefully that will change over the course of the season."
Hunt, who arrived at the club's Cottingham training ground just hours after returning to England following Republic of Ireland's friendly defeat by Australia, described his joy at returning to the top flight following a year in The Championship.
"I know how difficult the second season syndrome in the Premier League can be from Reading, so hopefully I can bring my experience of that here," he said. The most important thing is to keep the enthusiasm for the game and not take playing in the Premier League for granted. It's so exciting and I'm just glad to have that back."
While Brown admitted he does not know whether Negredo, who has also attracted interest from the likes of Villarreal, Roma, Stuttgart and Zenit, will come to the Tigers, he is confident a deal can be reached.
"As for Negredo, it has been four to six weeks since we first made contact with Real Madrid, but it's hard dealing with a club as big as they are. In terms of European football, they are number one, two or three. One minute you think you are 95 per cent there and the next moment it's 50-50 again.
"But we are very, very hopeful. In time for Chelsea on Saturday, though? I don't know. Even after the season kicks off, there will be transfer activity, a flurry of it, I imagine, and we will be part and parcel of that."
Hull chairman, Paul Duffen, shares Brown's confidence. "We are not alone (in chasing Negredo), but we are, I think, the leading candidate," he added.
However Negredo's agent Alejandro Camano claimed the 23-year-old's preferred destination is Roma. "Negredo wants Roma," he told Corriere dello Sport. "We are ready to wait for Roma for another two or three days, (sporting director) Daniele Prade knows all this, as he knows the player's choice would be the Giallorossi shirt. Negredo would be honoured to play for Roma. "
If Hull manage to sign Negredo, he would be their fifth signing of the summer, joining Hunt, Ghilas, Seyi Olofinjana and Jozy Altidore.