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6th Jun, 2017 | 9:00am

Report: Newcastle keen on 23-year-old defender, PL rivals willing to meet £12.5m asking price

By Derek Smithson

Newcastle are facing stiff competing from Premier League rivals Southampton for the signature of Sporting Lisbon defender Ruben Semedo, according to a report.

The Daily Mirror claim that Rafael Benitez is keen on signing the 23-year-old this summer to bolster his squad.

However, it is understood that the Saints will try to hijack Newcastle’ move by holding talks with Sporting this week about a potential deal.

The report details that Southampton are willing to meet the £12.5million asking price of Semedo and they see him as a potential replacement for Virgil van Dijk, who is being targeted by Liverpool and Manchester City.

Semedo played an important role for Sporting last season and made 31 appearances across all competitions.

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The powerful centre-back played in every minute of their Champions League group stage campaign and is being tipped to have a bright future.

He was a prominent feature in Portugal’s youth teams growing up and is now waiting for his first senior cap.

Premier League sides have shown their interest in the defender and they clearly feel he has the attributes to succeed in England, with his pace and physical presence two of his main strengths.

Football Insider verdict:

Newcastle are looking to bolster their squad ahead of they return to the Premier League and Benitez is set to be backed in the window. They do already have several capable defenders in their squad including the likes of CIaran Clark, Chancel Mbemba and Jamaal Lascelles. However, they struggled defensively during their last campaign in the top flight and bring in a top centre-back option would be a good move. Semedo has already racked up some strong experience during his time in Sporting and a move to the Premier League should help develop his game. Newcastle should look to match the asking price to bring the 23-year-old to St James’ Park, beating rivals Southampton in the process.

In other Newcastle transfer news, Fenerbahce are eyeing a move for the club’s 22-year-old.

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