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Newcastle eye Argentina international and Barcelona defender as they aim for double swoop before deadline

Federico Fernandez.
Federico Fernandez.

Rafa Benitez hopes to sign a centre-half and left-back before today’s transfer deadline – but the deals could go right down to the wire.

The Magpies boss is keen to add defensive resolve to his squad ahead of Saturday’s Premier League opener against Tottenham Hotspur at St James’s Park.

Newcastle have been linked with moves for Crystal Palace’s Jairo Riedewald, and Paris St Germain’s Stanley N’Soki with Benitez still having a small kitty to spend before the 5pm deadline.

However, those two left-backs are unlikely to arrive on Tyneside, leaving Benitez sweating on his options before the deadline.

Paul Dummett is Newcastle’s only recognised left-back, with Achraf Lazaar completely out of favour. Benitez was forced to play Javier Manquillo on the left flank last season when Dummett was injured, and Benitez is desperate to bring in some cover.

The Spaniard knows his squad lack strength in depth in the centre of defence too, especially after Florian Lejeune’s cruciate knee ligament injury.

The centre-half underwent an operation earlier this week, but isn’t expected to be back until the latter stages of the season at best.

Newcastle have already added Fabian Schar to their squad, but the Swiss international was seen as a replacement for Chancel Mbemba, who left for Porto.

They have been linked with a move for Swansea City’s Federico Fernandez, but the Championship club are reported to be holding out for a £10million fee.

The 29-year-old Argentinian international remains a strong option for the Magpies, who are also looking at defenders in France and Spain.

Barcelona’s Brazilian centre back Marlon Santos is one player who a deal could be done for. The 22-year-old spent last season on loan in France with Nice but has reportedly impressed Benitez with his performances in pre-season for Barca.

The big problem for Newcastle, however, will be attaining a work permit for the Brazilian, who has yet to be capped.

It all means a hectic last few hours of the summer window are in the offing. Benitez would also like to bring in a No 10 and another striker to supplement new boys Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto, but is having to prioritise his attention with the clock ticking.

Meanwhile, the bonus dispute has been resolved - with skipper Jamaal Lascelles insisting the players are fully focused ahead of the season opener.

The Newcastle players didn’t speak to journalists after the 4-0 defeat to Braga in Portugal and the 1-0 defeat to Augsburg because they were unhappy at the bonus scheme for the forthcoming season proposed by the club.

The squad also refused to take part in ‘walk up’ media duties for broadcasters including Sky Sports and BT Sport earlier in the week.

It was the second season running there has been a dispute involving the players and club over bonuses.

But the issue has now been resolved, with Lascelles confirming the issue had been put to bed ahead of the opening Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday lunchtime.

Lascelles said: “Everybody looks sharp, we’re training hard and we’ve all got our heads in the right place.

“We’ve managed to sort the off-field stuff; now that’s out of the way, we don’t have any reason why we can’t go out and put on a good performance.

“We know where we stand. No-one’s moaning, no-one’s upset and now it’s just about gelling together even more, working hard, getting a good energy around the club and the training ground - and doing what we do best which is working had and playing as team.”

Lascelles spoke to the club website after the players carried out ‘walk up’ media duties for broadcasters including Sky Sports.