HUGO EKITIKE is seeking assurances over the amount of playing time he is likely to get at St James’ Park next season as he continues to mull over a potential move to Newcastle United.

The Magpies have suffered a frustrating week of transfer inactivity, with big-money moves for both Ekitike and Sven Botman continuing to stall.

Newcastle have agreed the outline terms of a €28m deal for Ekitike, with Reims ready to sell the youngster, who celebrates his 20th birthday tomorrow, this summer.

Magpies officials have held talks with both the Reims hierarchy and Ekitike and his representatives, but have so far been unable to complete a deal Eddie Howe regards as one of the key pieces of his summer transfer jigsaw.

Ekitike turned down the opportunity to move to Tyneside in January, instead opting to remain with Reims in Ligue 1 for the second half of last season, and the striker is understood to still have reservations about signing a long-term deal at St James’ Park.

These reservations relate to the amount of starting time he is likely to get next season, with Callum Wilson firmly established as Newcastle’s leading centre-forward.

With Howe seemingly wedded to a formation with only one central striker, and Allan Saint-Maximin expected to fill a wide-attacking role given he will not be moving this summer, Ekitike’s opportunities to force his way into Newcastle’s starting side could be limited.

He is unlikely to be selected to play alongside Wilson through the middle, so will almost certainly find himself in a wide role as part of a front three or be forced to spend a significant amount of time on the bench.

He is unlikely to regard either scenario as ideal, and will be mindful of the way in which Joelinton’s Newcastle career initially stalled as he was shuffled around a number of different attacking positions before Howe eventually opted to move him permanently to midfield.

Talks remain ongoing, but there will come a stage where Newcastle’s recruitment team start to make serious moves for alternative attacking options, with the next seven days likely to be crucial in terms of pinning Ekitike down to his future plans.

Borussia Dortmund have been heavily linked with the forward in the French media in recent days, but have not made a formal offer to Reims. Similarly, while there has been talk of Paris St Germain also being interested, Newcastle remain the only club to have tabled a bid.

Botman’s situation has not changed in the last few days either, with the centre-half currently on holiday after completing his international duty with the Netherlands Under-21s.

Newcastle have agreed a €30m deal with Lille for the defender, and are ready to commit to a further €10m of add-ons once Botman and his representatives give the green light to the move.

However, the Dutchman continues to keep his options open, with AC Milan still extremely keen to take him to the San Siro.

Having recently been crowned champions of Serie A, Milan can offer Champions League football next season, but the Italians are only offering between €20-25m as a total package, an offer that has been rejected by Lille.

With the situation still deadlocked, Newcastle have been offered a range of central-defensive alternatives to Botman in the last few days.

The club are aware of Eric Bailly’s availability, with Manchester United looking to offload the Ivory Coast international, who made just three starts and one substitute appearance in the Premier League last season.

Bailly, who is currently earning around £80,000-a-week at Old Trafford, still has two years of his current contract remaining, with Manchester United having an option to extend the deal by another 12 months.

However, new boss Erik ten Hag does not see Bailly as part of his plans, and Newcastle have been told the Old Trafford hierarchy are ready to listen to offers.