Dwight Gayle and Callum Wilson were both put forward as transfer targets last summer by Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.
Yorkshire Live reports that Wilder suggested the two strikers to the Blades recruitment team in a bid to boost his firepower.
But in what has become a stumbling block for United, the duo were deemed beyond the club’s wage structure.
Wilson was at recently relegated Bournemouth at the time and instead made the switch to St James’ Park.
Gayle, meanwhile, remained with Newcastle and has made just 12 appearances in all competitions this season.
Instead, the South Yorkshire side signed Rhian Brewster from Liverpool in a club record deal that could reach £23m.
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That is more than the £20m (BBC Sport) the Magpies paid for Wilson, while it’s thought Gayle would also have cost less than Brewster.
Yet it’s not the transfer budget that has been the Blades’ problem since being promoted to the Premier League in 2019. That has been relatively competitive and they’ve broken their club record six times during that time.
What is an issue is their wage structure. Their top earners are believed to be on around £30,000-a-week.
Wilson, for example, is being paid £100,000-a-week by Newcastle after signing a five-year contract. The Telegraph reports Gayle earns around £60,000-a-week.
Could Dwight Gayle or Callum Wilson have saved the club?
Goals have been very hard to come by for United, who have scored the fewest in the entire top flight. In 28 league games they have netted just 16 times.
But it’s not as if the warning signs weren’t there. Even last term, when they achieved an impressive ninth place finish, they were still the fourth lowest scorers in the division.
Wilder recognised that and wanted to address it. Instead, Brewster was brought in and is yet to score his first goal for the club.
In contrast, Wilson is the Magpies’ top scorer with 10 goals in 21 league games.
With 51 strikes in 147 matches overall, the 29-year-old is a proven Premier League forward.
Gayle, meanwhile, has only scored once in the league in 2020/21. Although his opportunities have been more limited.
The 31-year-old is another who has plenty of top flight experience.
Signing them might not have changed anything. The Blades may still have struggled and been relegated.
But at least it might have given Wilder and his team more of a chance.
However, unless the wage structure changes, it will continue to be a case of taking risks on either Championship or young players.