Newcastle United briefing: Midfielders lined up by Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley sends fixer to club

Lucas Leiva
Lucas Leiva

Newcastle United are closing in on a second summer signing.

Rafa Benitez is interested in signing Liverpool's Lucas Leiva.

And the club has also been linked with another defensive midfielder.

Meanwhile, owner Mike Ashley has tasked a key associate with attracting investment to the club.

Here's your daily briefing:

Defensively minded

Maxime Gonalons, left

Maxime Gonalons, left

Leiva is expected to leave Liverpool this summer after completing a decade's service at Anfield.

And Newcastle are understood to be looking at the 30-year-old, who is interested in returning to former club Gremio in Brazil.

Leiva, however, isn't the only defensive midfielder on the club's transfer radar.

L'Equipe claim United are also considering a move for an experienced France international.

Mike Ashley, centre

Mike Ashley, centre

New face in Toon

There's been a new arrival at St James's Park in recent weeks.

But he's not a player.

Instead, Justin Barnes, an associate of Ashley, has been at the club, which Ashley is prepared to sell at the right price.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Barnes, known as Ashley's "fixer" at his Sports Direct empire, is looking into the possibility of selling the club – or attracting new investment.

Efforts in the transfer market, however, have been continuing.

Benitez is working closely with managing director Lee Charnley.

The pair oversaw a huge rebuilding job last summer, and there will be a high turnover of players in this transfer window.

Back home

The body of Cheick Tiote has been returned to his native Ivory Coast.

Cheick Tiote

Cheick Tiote

Tiote died after collapsing during a training session with new club Beijing Enterprises last week.

And hundreds gathered at Abidjan's international airport yesterday to receive the former United midfielder's body yesterday.

Manchester City's Wilfried Bony and Celtic's Kolo Toure were among the crowd.

Toure described Tiote as "a great player, a warrior" and said he was "shocked" by his death.

Tiote will now be laid to rest by his family.

"Like" our NUFC Facebook page here