Newcastle and Brighton face fight for England youngster

Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
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Newcastle United could re-ignite their interest in England youth international Ruben Loftus-Cheek, following Chelsea's decision to make the 21-year-old available.

Although, the Magpies could face competition from Brighton, who have also been credited with an interest in the midfielder.

Newcastle this morning returned for the first day of pre-season training at the club's Benton base.

But it's fair to say that the Magpies squad does not resemble anything like what manager Rafa Benitez would have hoped for.

Having aimed to have a chunk of his business done, with up to five new faces on board, United have fallen well below that - managing to sign just Christian Atsu from Chelsea in a deal worth around £6million.

It's been a frustrating summer so far for the Spaniard.

And with most of his transfer work still to be done, United continue to be linked with players daily - Loftus-Cheek the latest.

Benitez is a known admirer of the Blues kid, having made an attempt to sign him on loan in the winter window.

And United have been encouraged by the news that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte does not see Loftus-Cheek as part of his first-team plans next season, as the Stamford Bridge outfit look to defend the Premier League title.

Benitez is desperate to add to his midfield, having been down to the bare bones in that department last season - Jack Colback (illness) and Isaac Hayden (injury) were both forced to play through the pain barrier at crucial points in the second tier campaign.

And Loftus-Cheek, also wanted by Chris Hughton's Brighton, is a player who may be considered, so too Hamburg's Lewis Holtby, although a loan deal is most likely for the former.

Elsewhere, United have been linked with summer moves for England internationals Kieran Gibbs and Joe Hart.

The Magpies are believed to be one of a number of Premier League clubs to consider signing the Arsenal left-back, after he managed just 11 top flight appearances for the club last season.

And at just £8million he represents value in the current inflated market, given that he has just 12 months left on his Emirates deal.

But his wages, thought to total at least £80,000 per week might prove too rich for not only Newcastle but also West Ham and Watford.

Benitez is in the hunt for a left-back, having used primarily Paul Dummett for the whole of the Championship winning campaign.

Massadio Haidara and Achraf Lazaar are expected to depart the club this summer, so too is Spaniard Jesus Gamez.

And after what can only be described as a rocky spell in Serie A, Hart has also been linked with United.

Torino, where he spent last season on loan, are not too disappointed to see the back of the 30-year-old. And Man City have already signed their No 1 this summer so Hart is almost certain to leave.

The Daily Mail claim that Benitez is considering Hart, given that he has had difficulty securing a deal for either one of his two priority goalkeeper targets - Pepe Reina and now Chelsea man Willy Caballero.

United are well stocked between the sticks but are likely to let at least another goalie leave this summer, having sent flop Matz Sels out on loan to Anderlecht.

Tim Krul, with one year left, and Karl Darlow could face the chop, while Freddie Woodman is almost certain to spend the season on loan, most likely at an English Football League club.