NEWCASTLE UNITED retain an interest in Jesse Lingard – but are adamant they will not dismantle their wage structure in order to sign the England international.

Lingard is a free agent following his release from Manchester United at the end of last season, and is keen to resolve his future as soon as possible to give himself the best possible chance of hitting the ground running with new employers at the start of the new campaign.

Newcastle made a number of attempts to sign the attacking midfielder during the January transfer window, only for talks with Manchester United officials to collapse on deadline day.

The Magpies rekindled their interest when they held discussions with Lingard’s representatives at the start of the summer, and have maintained a dialogue throughout the close season.

However, Lingard’s initial wage demands fell outside the club’s current budgetary limits, and both Eddie Howe and Amanda Staveley are adamant they do not want to smash their wage ceiling this summer as it could create disharmony within the dressing room and lead to members of the current squad demanding an increase of their own.

As a free agent, Lingard is understood to be demanding more than £100,000-a-week, as well as a significant signing-on fee that would be paid in a lump sum at the start of any deal.

His financial demands have proved a stumbling block to all of his summer suitors, although West Ham United are currently favourites to sign him as they appear the most willing to go closest to the 29-year-old’s current requests.

Everton remain interested, although like Newcastle, the Toffees are mindful of not overpaying for a player who failed to make any kind of an impression at Old Trafford in the second half of last season.

Tottenham were also heavily linked with a move for Lingard at the start of the summer, but the north London club have cooled their interest after completing the signing of Richarlison.

While Newcastle’s main remaining priorities this summer are a new centre-forward and a wide-attacking player, there is scope for Howe to be flexible if the right deal comes up, particularly if it relates to a free agent such as Lingard.

However, as well as working to a budget in terms of transfer fees and loan payments this summer, the Magpies are also attempting to remain within strict parameters when it comes to increasing their wage bill.

The intended departure of a number of fringe players should help, although Newcastle are currently finding it difficult to move players on because of the level of their current earnings at St James’ Park.

Dwight Gayle, in particular, is attracting strong interest from the Championship, but his current wage levels are making it extremely difficult for clubs in the second tier to put together a package that satisfies both his financial requirements and Newcastle’s demands.