NEWCASTLE UNITED have made significant progress in their pursuit of Sven Botman, and remain hopeful of completing the signing of both the Dutch defender and French forward Hugo Ekitike within the next couple of weeks.

The Magpies kicked off their summer transfer business yesterday as they confirmed the £15m signing of full-back Matt Targett from Aston Villa.

Targett’s return to Tyneside on a permanent deal is one of three high-profile transfers Eddie Howe is hoping to complete before the start of pre-season training, with talks to recruit both Botman and Ekitike having reached an advanced stage.

Newcastle officials have agreed a £30m fee for Botman, who was keen to move to St James’ Park in January, only for Lille to reject a series of offers from the Magpies.

However, while the framework of a deal is now in place, discussions continue over how the deal will be structured.

In order to stick to their pre-agreed budget and remain within the parameters of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability regulations, Newcastle are keen to spread the payment for their majority of their planned deals this summer over as long a period as possible.

It is understood their current proposal to Lille revolves around a down-payment of around £15m, with the second half of the fee being spread over the duration of Botman’s contract. As yet, this has not been accepted by the Lille hierarchy, who have been pushing for as much of the fee as possible to be paid up front.

Talks continue, and there is growing optimism that an agreement is close. The situation is complicated by ongoing interest from AC Milan, but while the Italian champions have held talks with Lille officials and Botman’s representatives, they are yet to table a formal offer for the 22-year-old. That could change at any moment, hence Newcastle’s desire to finalise things as quickly as possible.

Botman is currently on international duty with the Netherlands’ Under-21 side, and is part of the squad that is due to play a European Championships qualifier in Wales on Saturday. His international commitments should not hold up any deal, in fact, his presence in the UK could actually make it easier for Newcastle to wrap up a deal. The game against Wales is the Netherlands’ final fixture in their qualifying group, meaning Botman could head to the North-East once he has played in Llanelli to undergo a medical and finalise personal terms.

Newcastle’s attempts to sign Ekitike are at a similar stage, with a fee of around €30m having been agreed with Reims. However, as is the case with the Botman discussions, talks remain ongoing over the precise details of how the fee will be paid and the terms of a series of add-ons that are set to be worth a further €5m.

Ekitike, who is currently on international duty with France Under-20s at the Toulon Tournament, has agreed to move to Tyneside after previously opting to remain in Ligue 1 when Newcastle made their initial move to secure his services in January.

Having completed last season with Reims, his hometown team, Ekitike now feels ready to leave France and test himself in the Premier League.

His arrival should hasten the departure of Dwight Gayle, with the striker attracting interest from a number of Championship clubs including Middlesbrough and West Brom.