NEWCASTLE UNITED have edged ahead in the battle to sign Ryan Fraser – and are also hopeful of tying up deals for Rob Holding and Callum Wilson before the start of the Premier League season in nine days’ time.

Fraser is a free agent after leaving Bournemouth in the wake of the south coast side’s relegation to the Championship, and his representatives have held discussions with at least four Premier League clubs, including Newcastle, in the last few days.

Crystal Palace, West Ham United and Everton are known to be interested in signing the 26-year-old winger, who spent seven years with Bournemouth, helping the club climb from League One to the top-flight.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson regards Fraser as one of his leading summer targets, but Newcastle officials are increasingly confident of being able to win the fight for the Scotsman’s signature.

Crucially, Aberdeen-born Fraser would like to move north to make it easier to be with his family, and while Newcastle’s geography tends to count against them when it comes to courting transfer targets, this is one occasion where their location could be a key factor in their favour.

Talks over Fraser’s wage demands remain ongoing, but while the absence of a transfer fee means Newcastle will almost certainly have to pay a higher weekly rate than they would normally agree to, Steve Bruce is understood to be pushing those above him hard to secure a deal.

Fraser’s arrival would have potential repercussions for Newcastle’s pursuit of Callum Wilson, another player who spent last season with Bournemouth.

If Fraser signs, Bruce will be more inclined to allow Matt Ritchie to move to the Vitality Stadium, a scenario that could be the decisive factor in signing Wilson.

After an initial round of discussions, Aston Villa are understood to have indicated a willingness to pay a higher up-front fee than the Magpies for Wilson, a full England international who has scored 67 goals in 187 appearances for Bournemouth.

However, new Cherries boss Jason Tindall is keen to use Wilson’s departure as a means of bringing in signings of his own, and Ritchie is regarded as a player that would be out of the Championship side’s reach were it not for Newcastle’s desperation to sign Wilson.

Persuading Ritchie to drop down a division will not be easy, and Newcastle could end up having to make a contribution towards any reduction in the Scotland international’s wages. However, with Dwight Gayle expected to be out for up to three months after damaging his medial collateral ligaments and Joelinton’s situation uncertain amid suggestions he has been self-isolating because of coronavirus regulations, Newcastle’s need for a new centre-forward is becoming increasingly pressing.

At the other end of the field, the Magpies are confident of tying up Holding’s season-long loan from Arsenal.