FLORIAN THAUVIN is set to become the latest big-name player to leave Newcastle United, with Lazio close to agreeing a season-long loan for the French winger.

Rafael Benitez has already overseen a major clear-out since the end of last season, with Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Papiss Cisse, Andros Townsend and Georginio Wijnaldum all having left St James’ Park following Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship.

Cheick Tiote should complete a permanent move to Abu Dhabi champions Al-Jazira in the next few days, with Thauvin set to follow him out of the exit door as he attempts to rebuild his career away from Tyneside.

The 23-year-old joined Newcastle in a £12m move from Marseille last August, but returned to his former French employers in January after managing just three Premier League starts under Steve McClaren.

Marseille were interested in setting up another loan deal for next season, but were unable to meet Newcastle’s financial requirements.

However, Lazio have now entered formal discussions about a loan deal of their own, and are prepared to pay a fee of around £1.6m to secure Thauvin’s services for the next 12 months.

The Serie A side are also keen to agree a clause for a potential permanent deal next summer, and are willing to agree to a valuation of €10m despite Thauvin’s struggles over the last year.

The Frenchman was a 78th-minute substitute in Newcastle’s 2-0 friendly win at Southend on Tuesday, and has featured in all of the Magpies’ pre-season games to date. He does not form part of Benitez’s plans for next season though, and the Spaniard will agree to his departure in order to free up some space on the squad list for further additions of his own.

Newcastle play their final pre-season game against Dutch side Vitesse on Saturday, with Benitez getting closer to finalising his line-up for the opening Championship game at Fulham a week tomorrow.

The side that started against Southend is likely to be close to the team that lines up at Craven Cottage, although Matz Sels will hope to dislodge Karl Darlow from the goalkeeping spot, Grant Hanley will hope to force his way in at centre-half, and Matt Ritchie could replace Vurnon Anita if he recovers from injury.

Anita scored Newcastle’s opener at Roots Hall, and while the Dutchman has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot throughout his Newcastle career, his pre-season performances suggest he could be an important member of next season’s squad.

He has played at right-back, left-back and right midfield during the pre-season programme, and in a league as tough and relentless as the Championship, his ability to plug a variety of different gaps could prove an extremely useful asset.

“We all know the Championship is a difficult league with a lot of matches, so it is important to have people in the squad who can fill in in a number of different positions,” said Anita. “I think I am one of those people, and hopefully that will help.

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“I haven’t played in goal yet, but maybe if I have to play in goal, I will do that too! I have always felt comfortable in lots of different roles, and hopefully the manager knows that wherever he asks me to play, I will always do my best and give my all. I want to show everybody what I can do.

“I feel like it is in me to play in multiple positions, and that enables me to be able to fill in where I can and do my best to try to help the team. I was able to do that with a goal at Southend, and I also think I produced a good performance. It is up to me now to keep on going and help the team, and show everybody what I can do.”

Tuesday’s victory maintained Newcastle’s unbeaten pre-season record, and while it is always dangerous to read too much into the results of friendly matches, Benitez’s side look justified favourites as they prepare to kick off life in the second tier.

“There is a very positive mood at the moment, and we just have to make sure that lasts,” said Anita. “It is good for the team at the moment to have everybody behind us.

“That gives us a boost to go into the league, and hopefully we will be able to make a strong start and scare everybody a bit. We want to do our best and show everybody what we can do. If we do that, then we know we can win the league.”

Former Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is hoping to return to Premier League management with Hull City.

McClaren, who was dismissed from his position at St James’ Park in March, has applied for the vacant managerial position at the KC Stadium and is hoping to succeed Steve Bruce, who resigned at the end of last week.

McClaren spent six seasons with Hull as a player in the 1970s and 80s, but faces strong competition from former Everton boss Roberto Martinez, who is a strong favourite to take charge of the Tigers.