Newcastle United believe they are leading the race to sign Republic of Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick following his departure from Burnley this summer.
Burnley attempted to convince Hendrick to pen a new deal at Turf Moor, but his refusal to do so saw him dropped from the squad for the Clarets' final three games of the season while he awaited his impending exit.
AC Milan's interest in the midfielder has dominated headlines, but a source has confirmed to 90min that Newcastle believe they are ahead of the rest, with manager Steve Bruce playing a major role in the deal.
Newcastle had been expected to pursue plenty of high-profile transfers if their Saudi-backed takeover bid went through, with nonsensical links to Kylian Mbappé and Neymar good examples of the excitement at St James' Park.
However, with that takeover now off for now, Bruce has been given permission to pursue some of his original targets and Hendrick's name is close to the top of the boss' wish list, with Bruce following the midfielder over the past 12 months as he approached the end of his deal.
Hendrick has been sounded out by the likes of Everton, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion, and there was also interest from overseas sides like Milan, Atalanta, Lille and Marseille, but Newcastle believe they are ahead of the pack.
A source confirmed: “Newcastle feel very good about Hendrick, they have made him a very good offer and Steve Bruce has done a lot of work on it, and luckily he did not commit before they had chance to make their move.”
Newcastle still find themselves in somewhat of a limbo this summer. 90min understands the Saudi-backed consortium remain interested in a deal, while owner Mike Ashley has also been notified of interest from elsewhere, and he has told potential buyers that they need not even contact him until they can confirm their decision to meet his £300m asking price.
Any takeover would likely change Newcastle's transfer strategy, but as of now, Bruce has been given the green light to start working towards signing his own targets.