NEWCASTLE UNITED are investigating whether claims Lyon have slashed their asking price for Lucas Paqueta are true.

While a new central midfielder is not currently regarded as a priority for the Magpies, Eddie Howe has always maintained he is willing to be flexible if an especially attractive deal is on the table, and Paqueta is a player who has long been on the club’s transfer radar.

At the start of the summer, Howe and the rest of Newcastle’s recruitment team ruled out a move for the 24-year-old Brazilian, who is a close friend of Magpies midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, because Lyon were demanding €80m (£68m), a sum that was regarded as much too high.

However, a report in French football periodical Media Foot has suggested that Lyon have altered their stance and would now be willing to accept around €40m (£34m) for Paqueta, despite the South American still having three years on his contract remaining at the Groupama Stadium.

If Paqueta was to be available for that price, Newcastle’s recruitment team would almost certainly feel compelled to make a move given their long-standing admiration of the creative midfielder.

Having started his career with Flamengo in his native Brazil, Paqueta spent a season in Italy with AC Milan before joining Lyon in September 2020. A 33-time international, he was part of the Brazil side that won the Copa America in 2019.

There is understandable scepticism about the validity of the reports emanating from France, but the Lyon hierarchy have so far remained tight-lipped about their stance over Paqueta.

If the midfielder was to be available for a cut-price fee, Newcastle would inevitably face intense competition for his signature, with Arsenal likely to be at the front of a queue of Premier League clubs expressing an interest.

Guimaraes’ relationship with Paqueta might help the Magpies’ cause, with the latter having spent time at the former’s home on Tyneside earlier this summer, when he was even pictured wearing a Newcastle shirt.