Newcastle haven’t given up hope of signing James Maddison this summer and have reportedly tabled a second bid for the Leicester playmaker.
The Magpies saw a £40m bid for the midfielder rejected by the Foxes last week but a report on Monday claimed Brendan Rodgers’ side would ‘cash in’ if they received an offer of £60m.
Newcastle have improved on their opening offer, according to Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph, but the fee again falls short of Leicester’s valuation.
He claims the bid is ‘in excess of £45m but payments are staggered’, before admitting that although Maddison apparently ‘wants to leave’ he could in fact be pushing Leicester into offering him an improved contract.
Following their 1-0 preseason win over Sevilla, Rodgers responded to reports of interest in Maddison, claiming Newcastle were well short of what he believes the midfielder to be worth.
Rodgers said: “He’s still very much a player here. Naturally the players are sought after because they are talents. You see his performance, you see how happy he is and he’s not a player we want to sell.
“It’s not for me to put valuations on the players, it’s not my side, but that might just cover three-quarters of his left leg, that price. He’s a top player.”
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is moving to improve his forward options having reinforced his defence early in the summer transfer window.
Aston Villa full-back Matt Targett’s loan move has been made permanent, while they’ve also landed Burnley keeper Nick Pope and Lille defender Sven Botman.
But efforts to bolster his frontline have so far been frustrated with just days to go before the new Premier League season gets under way against promoted Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Reims frontman Hugo Ekitike chose to join Paris St Germain despite Newcastle’s long-standing interest while Moussa Diaby opted to stay at Bayer Leverkusen, and alternatives have proved equally elusive.
Maddison is one of a series of potential targets currently under consideration, with Chelsea striker Timo Werner and Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet also in the Magpies’ sights, although the need to stay within spending guidelines and the desire not to shatter the club’s wage structure despite the wealth of their Saudi-backed owners remain key.
Howe admits that as much as he wanted to get all his signings in before the start of the season, it was “never going to happen”.
When asked if the next transfer deal would be the hardest for Newcastle, Howe replied: “You are trying to lead me with your question, but it is a good question. Yes.
“We are now going into an area where we are still looking. We want to improve the squad. We are really pleased with what we have done but we know we have got more to do. But it has got to be the right one, in the right position. So it is not simple.”
Howe added: “When you look at how our squad is built, it is not a simple puzzle to solve. We are trying to do that as much as we can. We are working very, very hard. If I am not here talking to you or taking training and I am working on recruitment.
“A lot of work has gone into it, but it is hopefully going to be worth it because, as you say, the next move is probably one of the most important I will make.”
On why he wanted players through the door before now, Howe continued: “The ideal is to have all of your signings in before the start of pre-season. The reality is, particularly because of the length of the window, that was never going to happen.
“So to have three players in, and they’ve all settled really well, I am delighted. They have all settled in well and these trips are really good for them.
“This is where they really get to know each other behind-the-scenes. They have been exposed to the fundamental principles of our work. I think you start from a base of simple work and then you develop from there.”