By Matt Farr

Newcastle United are closing in on the signing of Benfica central midfielder Andreas Samaris, according to a report.

The Mirror claim that the Premier League newcomers have been working on a deal to sign the 28-year-old in a deal worth £17.5million for the past six weeks, but are now close to finalising the transfer.

Magpies boss Rafa Benitez is keen to add reinforcements to his first-team squad ahead of their upcoming Premier League campaign, and Samaris could become Newcastle’s second signing of the summer.

Newcastle have already added Chelsea attacker Christian Atsu to their ranks on a permanent deal following a successful loan spell with the Tyneside club last term.

The experienced Samaris, who can play as both a central or defensive-midfielder, would provide Benitez with a variety of options in a midfield that is lacking in top-flight experience.

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A 28-time Greece international, Samaris made 32 appearances in all competitions for Benfica last season, including four appearances in the Champions League.

He had previously played for Greek trio Panachaiki, Panionios, and Olympiakos, and is understood to be keen on a move to England.

Football Insider verdict

Benitez has finally gained full control of the club’s transfer dealings, a power that was increased following the departure of scout Graham Carr this week, and he is looking to make the most of his new-found financial strength. A quality, proven midfielder must be a top priority given the current lack of options in the squad, with only four players at his disposal. But they particularly lack a midfielder whose primary focus is to shield the defence in a holding role, and Samaris ticks the boxes. Both Isaac Hayden and Jack Colback can both do an ok job, but Samaris is a much-needed upgrade – and at £17.5million, that had better be the case.

In other Newcastle transfer news, a reliable journalist claims that the club are interested in signing this versatile midfielder from Italy.

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