Newcastle United are hopeful of signing Mohamed Diame AND Ciaran Clark ahead of the Championship season-opener against Fulham.
The club is understood to have triggered the release clauses of both players over the past 24 hours.
Newcastle – who kick off their campaign at Craven Cottage on Friday night – have lodged a £4.5million bid with newly-promoted Hull City for powerful midfielder Diame.
The club are hopeful that Diame will now travel to Tyneside for talks over a move to St James’s Park, though the 29-year-old has been offered a new deal at the KCOM Stadium.
United have also reportedly met defender Clark’s £5million release clause at Aston Villa.
Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo insisted last week that Clark would stay at the club.
“Ciaran is a Villa man, a Villa boy,” said Di Matteo. “He has pledged his future to us, he will be staying with us
“He is very happy to be with us, to stay here. I know he has a long-term contract as well.”
However, the Championship club, also relegated last season, is now braced for the departure of 26-year-old Clark, who is also a target for West Bromwich Albion.
Newcastle – who have had a bid for winger Anthony Knockaert rejected by Brighton and Hove Albion – have already signed six players this summer.
But United manager Benitez is still looking to strengthen for a number of positions as well as plan for the departure of midfielder Moussa Sissoko, who reported back to the club yesterday.
A number of clubs, including Real Madrid and Juventus, are weighing up moves for £35million-rated Sissoko, who was given an extended break by Benitez after his involvement at Euro 2016 with finalists France.
Meanwhile, Steven Taylor has spoken about his move to Major League Soccer.
The defender has joined USA side Portland Timbers after ending his long association with boyhood club Newcastle this summer. Taylor, 30, said: “I spoke with my family, friends and my lawyer this summer about a move to America, and as soon as I started talking to Portland I felt it was the right move for me. “I’ll always be proud to have played for Newcastle, my hometown club, and I wish Rafa Benitez and the team every success this season and in the future. “But this is a new and exciting chapter for me. I’m looking forward to experiencing a different league, a different city and a different culture.”