MANCHESTER UNITED are confident they will be able to complete a £25m deal for Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff, even though the Magpies continue to insist the 21-year-old is not for sale.

Having kicked off his summer rebuilding project with the £15m signing of former Swansea City winger Daniel James earlier this week, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has identified Longstaff as his next youthful target.

The midfielder burst into Newcastle’s first team with explosive effect at the turn of the year, before a knee ligament injury brought his campaign to a premature end in early March.

Since then, Longstaff has been linked with a move to Old Trafford on a number of occasions, and Solksjaer is hoping to use the ongoing uncertainty on Tyneside to his advantage as he attempts to engineer a deal.

With Mike Ashley’s continued ownership of Newcastle still uncertain amid ongoing takeover discussions, and Rafael Benitez still to make a decision on his future despite his current contract being due to expire in 16 days’ time, Manchester United officials are ready to table a formal £25m offer.

Newcastle officials have consistently maintained Longstaff will not be leaving St James’ Park this summer, but the hope on the red side of Manchester is that Ashley will be tempted to cash in before he hands over the reins of the club. There is also a feeling that a deal is more likely if Benitez is not in a position to step in to block Longstaff’s departure.

As a boyhood Newcastle fan, the midfielder has distanced himself from talk of a summer exit. However, the decision could effectively be taken out of his hands if Manchester United strike an agreement with the current Magpies hierarchy.

Speaking about Manchester United’s interest in a recent interview, Longstaff, who signed a new four-year-deal last December, said: “It just shows how far I’ve come.

“If someone told me at the start of the season that by the end of it, you’d be linked with these teams, I’d have laughed at them, but it’s nice, it’s flattering.

“I’m massively flattered to have my name even mentioned in those conversations, but I’m 100 per cent focused on Newcastle and trying to get fit and get back in the team here.

“For me, it’s nice to have that said about you and be linked with top clubs, but this is what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to play for Newcastle, and I’ve only had a little taste of that, so for me, it’s about getting fit as soon as I can, and getting back on the pitch for Newcastle and making more memories for the future.”

Nevertheless, Solskjaer is confident he can seal a deal as he attempts to shift Manchester United’s transfer policy towards the pursuit of hungry domestic talent rather than overpriced superstars from overseas.

Longstaff, who was attracting the attention of England boss Gareth Southgate prior to his knee injury, fits the bill, even though he has only made eight Premier League starts.