NEWCASTLE UNITED will make James Maddison their number one transfer priority in January, and are hopeful of being able to prise the England international out of the King Power Stadium at the start of next year.

The Magpies had two offers for Maddison rejected in the final month of this summer’s transfer window, with Leicester opting to hold on to the midfielder and instead sell Wesley Fofana to Chelsea.

Newcastle’s second offer is understood to have been worth around £40m, and that remains their valuation of the 25-year-old, whose future was the subject of intense speculation throughout this summer.

While Eddie Howe recruited a new forward in the closing weeks of the window, with Alexander Isak completing a club-record move from Real Sociedad, the transfer deadline arrived without the Magpies boss having been able to strengthen his attacking-midfield ranks, which was his other key priority.

As a result, the recruitment of an attacking midfielder will be the priority as thoughts turn towards the mid-season window, with Maddison firmly established as Newcastle’s preferred target. The Magpies remain interested in Everton’s Anthony Gordon, but at this stage, a deal for Maddison is regarded as a much more viable proposition.

The England star has entered the final two years of his current deal at the King Power, having last signed a contract extension ahead of the 2020-21 season. Leicester are expected to make an attempt to tie him down to a new deal in the next few months, but there have been strong suggestions that Maddison was keen to move on in the summer and he is therefore unlikely to agree to a deal that will severely restrict his future options.

The Northern Echo: PAPA (Image: PA)

BBC pundit Ian Wright claims Maddison “wanted to leave” for Newcastle in the summer, and the Magpies’ recruitment team are understood to have received strong indications that a move would be relatively simple to conclude if a fee could be agreed with the Leicester hierarchy.

That proved impossible, but with the Foxes currently rooted to the foot of the Premier League table after a dreadful start to the season that has piled considerable pressure on the club’s under-fire manager, Brendan Rodgers, the situation could look very different by the time the transfer window reopens at the start of January.

Newcastle were linked with a move for Lucas Paqueta throughout the summer window, only for the Brazilian to eventually join West Ham United in a club-record move that could eventually be worth more than £50m.

Paqueta is set to line up against Newcastle when they visit the London Stadium to face the Hammers on Sunday, but while the Magpies were long-standing admirers of the 25-year-old, they were never active pursuers of his services this summer.

Saif Rubie, one of the intermediaries who helped set up Paqueta’s move from Lyon to West Ham, has confirmed the Hammers were the only club to actually table an offer for the South American, who is a close friend of Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.

“West Ham United ended up getting a player which they would never have been able to get and, in fact, they weren’t even thinking they were going to be able to get,” said Rubie, in an interview with talkSPORT. “They were able to structure a deal because of intermediaries like myself.

“The intermediary that was able to help and support this whole deal was Barry Silkman. Barry Silkman was able to basically put something together with West Ham that West Ham were comfortable and happy to pay.

“Lyon were happy because, to be honest, and the chairman of Lyon was quoted, no one else in the end came and put hard cash down so they had to do the deal.”