NEWCASTLE UNITED are set to add teenage defender Alex Murphy to their ranks, after beating off competition from a number of leading European clubs including Celtic and Torino to land the highly-rated youngster.

Murphy will leave Irish side Galway United to move to Tyneside in the summer, once he turns 18, and is set to join Newcastle’s development ranks.

The 17-year-old, who is primarily regarded as a left-back, joined Galway United from Corrib Celtic, and has been attracting attention from scouts from right across Europe in the last few months.

Torino and Celtic are understood to have made contact with his representatives, with Brighton also having been linked with a possible move, but Newcastle have won the battle to secure his signature, according to a report on Irish-based station RTE Sport.

Galway United officials have reached an agreement with the Magpies hierarchy that will see Murphy see out the current campaign in Ireland before moving to England ahead of the new campaign.

The youngster, who made his first-team debut for Galway as a 16-year-old, is due to turn 18 at the end of June, paving the way for his switch to Tyneside.

He signed his first professional contract in January, and was handed his first standby call-up for the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21s squad in October.

His capture is further evidence of the Newcastle hierarchy’s desire to strengthen the club’s academy ranks and improve their identification and recruitment of promising youngsters.

Amanda Staveley cited overhauling the academy as a key priority when she completed her Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of the club in the autumn, and further infrastructural improvements are anticipated before the start of next season.

Newcastle’s owners will also be attempting to strengthen the first-team squad this summer, with Eddie Howe’s plans for the reopening of the transfer window gathering pace.

Brentford midfielder Christian Eriksen has emerged as a leading target, with the Denmark international due to become a free agent in June, while Newcastle have also been linked with a potential move for Brazil international Lucas Paqueta.

The 24-year-old forward is a friend and former Lyon team-mate of Bruno Guimaraes, with the pair also having played together at international level.

Lyon are understood to value Paqueta at around £50m, with Newcastle already having conducted successful negotiations with the French club when they signed Guimaraes in January.

Arsenal are also interested in a deal for Paqueta, who has scored nine goals and claimed six assists for Lyon this season. He has also scored seven goals in 31 appearances for Brazil.

Newcastle have ruled out a summer trip to either Saudi Arabia or Dubai, largely because both countries will be too hot in July, but with Howe keen to take his players overseas ahead of the start of next season, a training camp in the United States is under serious consideration.

A US tour, potentially with a base in Minnesota, would have obvious commercial appeal, with Howe also attracted by the potential for competitive matches and a state-of-the-art training environment.

With the Magpies’ Saudi owners having been delighted with the club’s trip to Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, a repeat visit to the country is planned at some stage. The autumn is the likeliest slot, potentially with a training camp being timed to coincide with the World Cup finals in Qatar.

Meanwhile, Newcastle return to action when they host Leicester City on Sunday, with Ryan Fraser and Joe Willock both expected to miss the game because of injury.

Fraser sustained a hamstring injury in the early stages of last Friday’s 1-0 win over Wolves, and is not expected to be fit for the meeting with the Foxes. Miguel Almiron is his likeliest replacement, having impressed after leaving the bench against Wolves.