By Dominic Toner
Newcastle are closing in on Palermo full-back Achraf Lazaar, according to a report.
The Chronicle claims that Rafa Benitez wants defensive cover and is believed to have offered the defender a five-year deal, with a fee of £3million agreed between the two clubs.
The left-back has also been linked with West Ham United this summer but Newcastle are keen to bring him to St James’ Park over the weekend.
Italian football news outlet Tutto Mercato Web claims that 24-year-old full-back has many admirers, which include Newcastle and Rafa Benitez, and that his future is currently being discussed at his Serie A club.
It is reported that the representative of the left-back has met up with Palermo’s sporting director Daniele Faggiano.
Lazaar has less than 12 months remaining on his Palermo deal and could be picked up at a lower fee than the Italian side would want.
The 14-time capped international was integral to Palermo’s Serie A campaign last season, making 30 domestic appearances for Davide Ballardini’s side.
The left-back position has proven to be a problem for the north east club with Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark and Jesus Gamez all occupying the role in the early stages of the new campaign.
Sky Sports’ north-east correspondent Keith Downie has reported on Twitter that Newcastle have also enquired about Chelsea’s Atsu in a loan move.
The 42-time Ghana international has less than two years remaining on his Stamford Bridge contract and, according to Downie, is one of a number of options being considered by the Magpies boss.
Atsu, 24, is unlikely to feature for Chelsea this season after spending last year at Bournemouth and Malaga in loan spells.
Benitez has already outspent his Championship rivals in this summer with some big signings, notably Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie, who joined for a combined £24million, and it looks like he could recruit further before the transfer window closes.
In other Newcastle transfer news, their central midfielder is in talks over a move.