SAID BENRAHMA has hinted he will be ready to leave Brentford in the summer – with Newcastle United set to lead the race for the Algerian forward.

With Steve Bruce keen to make early progress when the transfer window reopens, the Magpies’ recruitment team are currently assessing a number of attacking options.

Boubakary Soumare remains a leading target, but having failed to tie up a £35m deal for the Lille frontman in January, Newcastle officials are understandably wary about launching another move in the close season.

As a result, Benrahma is regarded as a more appealing option, with a senior Magpies scouting delegation having travelled to Griffin Park to watch the 24-year-old at first hand as Brentford claimed a 3-2 win over Middlesbrough last weekend.

Benrahma was the subject of outside interest in January, along with his team-mate Ollie Watkins, but the Brentford board opted not to sell any of their leading lights in order to support manager Thomas Frank’s ongoing promotion push as strongly as possible.

That stance will almost certainly change in the summer if Brentford remain in the Championship, and while Benrahma insists he will be doing all he can to win promotion with his current employers in the next three months, he has made it clear that he does not want to be playing in the second tier again next season if the Bees fail to make it to the Premier League.

“For the moment, I am focused on Brentford,” said Benrahma, who joined the Bees in a £1.5m move from French side Nice in 2018. “This summer, I will see, but for the moment, I am so focused here. I am happy, I play, I score, I win. It’s a good position, so I am happy.

“For the moment, I am here. My ambition is to play in the Premier League. That’s my first ambition. It’s the first step, and then continue to progress.

“If I go into the Premier League, God willing, with Brentford or…I don’t know. But my ambition is the Premier League.”

Arsenal have also been linked with a possible summer move, but Benrahma might well be wary of a move to the Emirates given the strength of the Gunners’ current midfield options.

His prospects of regular first-team football would be stronger on Tyneside, something Newcastle officials would push if they were given permission to speak to the forward at some stage this summer.

Meanwhile, Ki Sung-yueng has been left without a club after his return to his native South Korea did not go as planned. Ki cancelled his Newcastle contract by mutual consent last month in order to join FC Seoul, but talks between the 31-year-old midfielder and the club based in the South Korean capital have broken down.