NEWCASTLE UNITED are still expecting to confirm Steve Bruce as their next manager within the next couple of days after further talks with Sheffield Wednesday – and having to start the Asia Trophy without him.

The Magpies have continued discussions to finalise the finer details of a deal for Bruce having agreed a compensation package for him thought to be in the region of £4m. There has not been a statement from either club, although he did tender his resignation at Hillsborough on Monday.

There was a further twist to the situation when local reports in France claimed Bruno Genesio was set to sign a four-year contract to become the next manager at St James’ Park.

Reports emanating from Lyon claimed Genesio, a former coach of Olympique Lyonnais, had returned from holiday and had travelled to Newcastle to finalise a deal with a club that was soon going to be sold to a Dubai-based billionaire.

But club sources have told The Northern Echo that Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley are not focused on such a move. Bruce remains in the box-seat, even though it will be academy coaches Ben Dawson and Neil Redfearn overseeing things in Nanjing against Wolves in the Asia Trophy on Wednesday.

But Newcastle, under Ashley’s ownership, are close to announcing Bruce is the man to succeed Rafa Benitez, and that will bring its own hurdles for the new manager to overcome because of the supporters’ unrest on Tyneside following the Spaniard’s departure.

Benitez had overseen a promotion from the Championship and two mid-table finishes during his three full seasons with the club, despite never being handed the sort of financial kitty he craved on Tyneside.

And after a failure to reach an agreement over the future direction of the club, as he sought assurances from Ashley on a number of fronts, Benitez decided to take on a new challenge in China where he signed a deal worth £12m-a-year with Dalian Yifang.

Now the Newcastle squad, at this stage managerless, are in the Far East for the Asia Trophy and winger Matt Ritchie has described his “surprise” and “disappointment” that Benitez has departed.

Speaking in Nanjing, Ritchie said: “To see the manager leave was disappointing because he had a good reign with the club.

“But it was a decision made between the manager and the club owners so it’s out of our hands. Now we have to look forward to a new manager and a new season.”

Ritchie, who was one of Benitez's first signings three years ago, added: "I was surprised, I thought he was going to stay. But he didn't and you have to move on as a club and as individuals and I am sure the new manager will come in with new ideas and I'm looking forward to that."

Newcastle supporters are planning protests following Benitez’s exit and the prospect of Corbridge-born boyhood Newcastle fan Bruce – a former Sunderland manager – being appointed.

Ritchie said: "The key thing is that we have to create a togetherness from top to bottom and everyone pulling in the same direction. With that I am sure we can have success."

When Bruce does take over the reins he is expected to be handed the same level of cash Benitez was promised, which was originally £50m before the sale of Ayoze Perez for £30m to Leicester. Joselu departed this week for £1.5m and there could be further sales too.

Newcastle are looking at giving Bruce’s reign an early lift by securing the services of Brazilian striker Joelinton. Hoffenheim have indicated in Germany that he has been training with them this week and they will not let him go for less than their asking price, and he is quoted in the £40m bracket.

Former Newcastle United striker Michael Chopra, meanwhile, has boldly claimed that he found a Saudi Arabian buyer for the Magpies - and nothing came from it.

“I found a guy in Saudi Arabia at the end of last year who was very interested in buying the club," Chopra told TalkSPORT. “We spoke to Lee Charnley and he put us in touch with Andrew Henderson, Mike Ashley’s lawyer.

“We called him up, we wanted the mandate from Andrew Henderson to speak to the guy in Saudi about buying the club. Andrew Henderson said if he’s got that much money, is a royal out there, tell him to fly to London to see me.

“From that, I get that they don’t really want to sell the club. They wouldn’t give a mandate to someone who has found a buyer for the club.”

Newcastle have since seen takeover talk from the Bin Zayed Group throughout the summer. The Group still maintain they want to buy the club but Ashley's pursuit of Bruce suggests that nothing is imminent.

Chopra added: “Even in the Championship Newcastle sold out – but I think that will stop, the fans have had enough.

“The fans are putting their foot down. In 2003 you had 12,000 fans travelling to the San Siro, now you’ve got 12,000 season tickets unsold.

“It a disease. Every year it is getting worse and worse. Do I personally think he wants to sell the club? I don’t think so.”