NEWCASTLE UNITED find themselves embroiled in a four-way Premier League tussle for the signing of highly-rated French teenager Hugo Ekitike.

With Callum Wilson set to be sidelined for around two months, the Magpies have switched their attention to the 19-year-old Reims striker as they desperately try to recruit a new centre-forward ahead of this weekend’s crunch relegation battle with Watford.

Ekitike, a France Under-20 international, has scored eight goals and claimed two assists in 17 Ligue 1 appearances this season, having made his first-team debut for Reims in October 2020.

Newcastle’s recruitment team, led by director Amanda Staveley, have held initial discussions with Reims officials and indicated a willingness to pay around €30m for the teenager, although it is not thought that Reims will be keen to do business at that price.

To further complicate matters, the Magpies are one of four English clubs to have held talks with the Reims hierarchy, with West Ham, Brighton and Brentford also keen to recruit Ekitike.

At this stage, Newcastle and West Ham’s interest is at the most advanced stage, with Hammers boss David Moyes keen to secure some attacking competition for Michail Antonio.

Like Newcastle, West Ham’s owners are understood to be reluctant to go much above €30m for a player who is completely unproven in English football and yet to make a single senior international appearance, but with the potential for a bidding war as the end of the transfer window approaches, the Reims hierarchy are determined to hold out for the best possible deal.

Newcastle’s owners are expected to hold further talks over the course of the next 24 hours, but having walked away from a deal for Sven Botman because they were not prepared to meet Lille’s asking price for the centre-half, Staveley and her advisors remain adamant they will not be backed into a corner over Ekitike.

Discussions have taken place over Burnley forward Chris Wood, with the New Zealander’s Turf Moor contract understood to feature a buyout clause that would enable Newcastle to push through a deal even though the Clarets do not want to sell to one of their relegation rivals.

The Magpies have also been monitoring Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke, with the former Liverpool striker having scored 18 goals in 25 Championship appearances this season. Solanke has spearheaded Bournemouth’s rise to the top of the Championship table, but while the Cherries would be understandably reluctant to lose their leading scorer in the middle of a promotion push, Newcastle could table an offer they would find very difficult to turn down.