Newcastle close in on striking target – as Benitez ramps up transfer business

Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
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Rafa Benitez’s summer rebuild at Newcastle United appears to be gathering pace with a deal for Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham edging closer.

Abraham has been made available on loan by the Blues after an impressive season at Bristol City, where he finished as the Championship’s second top-scorer.

That has alerted Sunderland and Brighton, among others, but it appears as if Newcastle’s offer to pay the striker’s wage in full has won them the race, as well as manager Benitez’s close relationship with Stamford Bridge technical director Michael Emenalo

The temporary deal for Abraham, who netted 26 times last season, is not the Magpies’ only reported piece of business, though, with a bid of around £10.4million reportedly lodged for Metz and Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr.

Metz are rumoured to be wanting closer to £13million this summer.

Benitez is looking to strengthen the wide areas of his side.

The Spaniard already has Matt Ritchie at his disposal, as well as securing a deal for Christian Atsu from Chelsea. Rolando Aarons, should he prove his fitness, could also provide first-team competition.

Beyond that, options are light with Yoan Gouffran and Sammy Ameobi both set to depart at the end of their contracts.

Andros Townsend has been heavily linked with a return in recent weeks, with Benitez a keen admirer of the Crystal Palace winger.

But with Palace still searching for a new manager and no decision made on Townsend until the new man settles into the Selhurst Park job, Sarr could become a viable, young and relatively cheap option.

Sarr, who is also wanted by Lille, played 31 times for Metz this season, scoring five times.

Elsewhere, Portuguese newspaper A Bola reported that the Magpies had a bid for Ruben Semedo accepted by Sporting Lisbon.

A fee of around £12.1million was said to have been accepted, but that has been refuted by the player’s agent, Catio Balde.

“Reuben is at the stage of the national team and it’s all a lie,” he said of the reports of an agreement. “There is nothing.”

Reports suggested the Magpies had sent representatives to seal the deal to see off late interest from Southampton.

Meanwhile, Manchester City could rival Newcastle in the chase for Napoli keeper Pepe Reina, despite a £35million swoop for Benfica keeper Ederson Moraes.

The ex-Liverpool man is almost certain to leave Napoli after a falling out with the club hierarchy, with Napoli lining up Wojciech Szczesny.