By Will Butcher

Newcastle have had a substantial bid rejected for former France Under-21 international Anthony Knockaert rejected, according to a report.

The 24-year-old dazzled Championship defenders in the second half of last year after signing for Brighton, but was unable to get the Seagulls promoted as they crashed out in the play-offs.

The Argus claim that Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez is a keen admirer of the playmaker, and is willing to shell out in the region of £6million to £10million after already having an offer rejected.

The former Leicester City star left the Foxes last summer to play for Belgian giants Standard Liege. After scoring seven goals in all competitions during the first half of the season, the Seagulls came calling and Knockaert put pen to paper on a £2.6million deal.

The Frenchman scored another five league goals and added seven assists for Brighton as they mounted a promotion challenge, and acted as The Seagulls heartbeat during an impressive season under manager Chris Hughton.

With three years still remaining on the former Guingamp man’s contract, Hughton will be desperate to keep his star man as the Magpies come sniffing.

Championship big-boys Newcastle are in the hunt for an instant return to the top-flight, after former Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez has so far dwarfed his Championship rivals with over £30million of spending.

He’s brought in Premier League stars Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle for £10million a piece, goalkeeper Matz Sels, Blackburn captain Grant Hanley, Atletico Madrid’s Jesus Gamez, and Arsenal youngster Isaac Hayden.

In other Newcastle transfer news, this journalist has given an update on four players as Benitez conducts a mass St. James’ Park exodus.