NICE are ready to offer Patrick Vieira an improved contract to prevent him from leaving the French Riviera and joining Newcastle United.

Newcastle officials are hoping to press on with the process of appointing Rafael Benitez’s successor in the next few days after whittling down an initial long-list of candidates last week.

Vieira is one of the names currently under consideration, but prising the former Arsenal midfielder from his current position as head coach of Nice will not be an easy process.

Nice, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season, are in the process of being taken over by British businessman Jim Ratcliffe, who turned his attention to the French club after failing to engineer a deal to buy in to Chelsea.

If Ratcliffe completes his buyout, he does not want the uncertainty of a change of manager, so one of his first moves will be to offer Vieira a lucrative new deal.

Vieira signed a three-year deal when he joined Nice from New York City last summer, meaning he is contracted to the Ligue 1 club to 2021, but his deal is understood to include a number of clauses that could potentially make it relatively easy for him to leave.

Those clauses would be removed in any future deal, with Nice set to offer Vieira more money than he would be earning on Tyneside.

Vieira’s long-term ambition is to manage Arsenal, so a move to the Premier League would potentially appeal. However, Mike Ashley is unlikely to want to get into a bidding war for the 43-year-old, who began his coaching career in the academy at Manchester City.

A number of Newcastle’s leading options are currently under contract, which would complicate the recruitment process if they emerged as Ashley and Lee Charnley’s preferred choice.

Mikel Arteta is currently employed as Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach at Manchester City, Rangers have made it clear that they will fight tooth and nail to keep Steven Gerrard at Ibrox, and it would cost around £10m to break Sean Dyche’s current contract at Burnley.

Both Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger distanced themselves from speculation linking them with a possible move to Newcastle last week, meaning the Magpies’ realistic out-of-work options include the likes of David Moyes, Garry Monk and Mark Hughes.

While Newcastle do not currently have a manager, they find themselves involved in a number of transfer issues that are set to come to a head in the next few days.

Having signalled their interest in Sean Longstaff over the last week or so, Manchester United are poised to table a formal offer for the midfielder.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer wants to add Longstaff to his squad, having completed the signing of full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka over the weekend, and Manchester United officials are set to offer an initial £15m down payment as part of a deal that could eventually rise to £25m.

Newcastle will almost certainly reject that offer as Manchester United will have to offer a much bigger sum up front if they want to complete a deal.

As well as dealing with interest in Longstaff, the Newcastle hierarchy also find themselves replying to inquiries about Ayoze Perez.

The forward is the subject of strong interest from Valencia and Real Betis, with both Spanish club understood to be willing to pay around £20m to sign Perez this summer.

The 25-year-old cost Newcastle just £1.5m when he signed from Tenerife in 2014, although his former employers included a sizeable sell-on clause into the deal.

Newcastle officials will be mindful of that clause if they negotiate a deal for Perez this summer, with the forward having admitted the prospect of a return to his homeland appeals.