NEWCASTLE UNITED are ready to battle West Ham United for the signature of Andre Gray, with the striker continuing to stall on the offer of a new deal at Burnley.

Gray has repeatedly rejected attempts to pin him down to an extended contract at Turf Moor, and Burnley officials have reluctantly accepted they might well have to sell the 26-year-old, who has entered the final year of his current deal.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche is hoping to sign Jon Walters from Stoke City, and if the Irishman can be persuaded to join the Clarets, Gray will be allowed to leave.

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has already signalled his intention to bid for the forward, who finished last season with nine Premier League goals to his name.

Bilic would be willing to pay around £12m for Gray, but Newcastle officials are ready to make their own offer if Burnley confirm a willingness to do business.

Rafael Benitez is determined to strengthen his attacking resources this summer, and while Portuguese sources yesterday linked the Magpies with a possible €35m bid for long-term target Bas Dost, Gray is regarded as a much more realistic target.

Newcastle’s scouting team watched him on a number of occasions last season, and Benitez regards him as a proven Premier League performer who could be under-priced because of his contractual position.

The Newcastle boss will be pushing those above him to do all they can to force through a deal, having welcomed the majority of his players back to pre-season training at the start of the week.

Florian Lejeune became the second player to join Newcastle on a permanent basis this summer when he completed an £8.7m move from Eibar on Tuesday, but Benitez is hoping another couple of deals will be completed within the next few weeks.

Kieran Gibbs remains a leading target, with Arsenal willing to consider selling the left-back for around £10m, while Newcastle are still in the market for potential loan deals involving Liverpool’s Sheyi Ojo and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Magpies have also been linked with Joe Hart and Sam Clucas, but at this stage, they are not understood to be interested in either of those players.

Further departures are likely before the new Premier League season begins, with Reading lining up an offer for goalkeeper Karl Darlow.

Benitez is willing to sell both Darlow and Tim Krul this summer, and Reading boss Jaap Stam is an admirer of the former, who was Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper for the majority of last season.

Daryl Murphy has been told to seek alternative employers this summer, and Norwich City have inquired about the former Ipswich striker’s situation.

Newcastle are keen to recoup the £3m they spent to sign Murphy from Ipswich last summer, but Norwich will look to include a series of clauses in any potential deal.