NEWCASTLE UNITED will renew their interest in Hugo Ekitike this summer, despite having been unable to persuade the 19-year-old French striker to move to St James’ Park in January.

Having tracked Ekitike throughout the January window, the Magpies finally had a bid of around £25m, with a further £8m of potential add-ons, accepted by Reims officials on deadline day.

However, while Newcastle’s recruitment team made arrangements to fly the teenager into the North-East for a medical, Ekitike decided he was not ready to leave his homeland and opted to remain in Ligue 1.

Things have not really gone to plan for him since, with an injury meaning he has been sidelined since mid-February. While his situation is improving, he is not expected to return to first-team duties before the end of the campaign.

Eddie Howe is determined to overhaul his squad again this summer, and has identified attack as a key position that needs strengthening. While Chris Wood has performed creditably since making a £25m move from Burnley, he has only scored two goals in 15 games, and while Callum Wilson remains a highly-regarded asset, his injury issues continue to cause a major headache. Dwight Gayle is expected to leave at the end of the season, having barely featured during the current campaign.

Ekitike remains a leading target, with Newcastle’s recruitment hierarchy still convinced the youngster can be a major success in the Premier League.

His reluctance to move in January will not prevent the Magpies making another move this summer, for a similar price to the one that was agreed at the start of the year, and all the indications are that Reims are ready to sell as they look certain to miss out on European qualification.

“In Hugo’s case, he would waste time staying with us,” admitted Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot. “The money will be used to grow and improve the club. Hugo will be allowed to go, and he’s probably going to leave – there wasn’t a big club that didn’t inquire for him.”