NEWCASTLE UNITED face a major battle to land transfer target Nicolas Pepe, with Manchester City having joined the race for the Angers winger.

The Magpies have signalled a willingness to pay €12m for Pepe, a 22-year-old Ivory Coast international who made 33 appearances in Ligue 1 last season.

Watford have made a similar offer, but Newcastle’s recruitment team are confident of persuading Pepe and his representatives they are a more attractive proposition than the Hornets, who remain in a state of flux following the appointment of Marco Silva as manager.

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However, Manchester City’s emergence as rivals threatens to change the situation, with Pep Guardiola regarding Pepe as an attractive long-term investment.

City officials have been in touch with their counterparts at Angers, with sources in Manchester claiming they will look to loan Pepe to Spanish club Girona if they are able to sign him in the next few days.

City have developed a loose tie-up with Girona, who recently won promotion to La Liga, and are keen to use the Spanish club to help develop some of their talented youngsters rather than send them to lower-league English clubs on loan.

Whether Pepe would be interested in such an arrangement remains to be seen, but Newcastle’s recruitment team will hold further talks with Angers officials within the next 24 hours in an attempt to force through a deal of their own.

Since completing a £6.2m deal for Christian Atsu, Newcastle have suffered a frustrating time in the transfer market.

Their pursuit of Tammy Abraham has stalled, with a number of rival clubs now having matched their offer to the Chelsea forward, while they have been unable to complete the signing of Florian Lejeune, even though the Eibar defender has an £8.7m buy-out clause in his contract.

Interest in Pepe Reina and Willy Caballero has failed to come to fruition, and while Rafael Benitez remains confident further signings will soon arrive, there is growing frustration at the lack of progress.

Newcastle’s lack of transfer activity is not related to Mike Ashley’s ongoing attempts to sell the club, with the Magpies owner already having agreed a summer budget with managing director Lee Charnley.

Two Chinese consortiums are understood to have expressed an interest in acquiring a stake in Newcastle, and talks remain ongoing.

The discussions remain at a formative stage, however, and at this stage, the groups are interested in buying a share of the club rather than attempting to complete a full takeover.