INTER Milan have signalled their intention to compete with Newcastle United for the signature of French full-back Mathieu Debuchy.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has identified Lille right-back Debuchy as his leading defensive target this summer.
With Danny Simpson's future extremely uncertain because of his refusal to sign a new contract, Pardew is keen to sign an experienced full-back.
He has been forced to scale back his pursuit of Debuchy as the 26-year-old is a key part of France's European Championships squad, and is expected to start next Monday's game against England in the absence of the injured Bacary Sagna.
However, Newcastle's failure to complete a deal ahead of Euro 2012 could prove costly, as Inter Milan have emerged as rival bidders.
The Italian side sent scouts to watch France's final warm-up game against Estonia in Le Mans on Tuesday evening, a match that saw Debuchy produce a polished display as his side cruised to a 4-0 win.
Inter are set to lose Maicon this summer – the Brazilian's representatives have already confirmed their client's intention to leave the San Siro – and Debuchy is seen as an ideal replacement.
Inter Milan only finished sixth in Serie A last season, so cannot offer Champions League football, but with Newcastle continuing to operate within strict budgetary constraints, there is every chance the Italian side could outbid their English rivals if it came to a battle over Debuchy's wages.
Pardew is hoping to clear some space on the Magpies' wage bill by moving on a number of his fringe players, and Celtic are poised to make an offer for striker Leon Best.
Best turned down the chance to move to Parkhead in January, opting to remain on Tyneside and fight for a place in the Newcastle first team.
However, he suffered a knee injury in February and did not make a single first-team appearance in the final three months of last season.
He is about to enter the final year of his contract, and Celtic boss Neil Lennon is set to make a renewed approach in an attempt to lure him north of the border at the second attempt.
* Former Newcastle and Hartlepool midfielder Nolberto Solano has taken his first steps into management by taking over at Peruvian side Universitario.