NEWCASTLE remain hopeful of signing Hatem Ben Arfa despite failing in an initial attempt to land the French midfielder on loan earlier this week.

But the Magpies are set to miss out on another of their leading transfer targets after Bolton boss Owen Coyle stepped up his pursuit of Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.

While Newcastle's players were beating Deportivo La Coruna on penalties in their penultimate pre-season outing on Tuesday, the club's hierarchy were locked in detailed discussions with their counterparts in Marseille over Ben Arfa's future.

Newcastle officials are understood to have proposed a season-long loan deal worth around £500,000, with an option for a permanent transfer at the end of next season.

However, the offer was rejected at the Stade Velodrome, with the Marseille board holding out for a cash deal of around £6m.

Marseille boss Didier Deschamps is keen to make signings of his own this summer, and is hoping to raise a significant amount of funds through the sale of Ben Arfa, a 23-year-old winger who has won seven senior caps for the French national team.

Newcastle had hoped to schedule another round of discussions later this week, but competition has emerged in the form of German club Hoffenheim, who have been given permission to speak to Ben Arfa after opening formal discussions with Marseille.

There is no deal in place between the two clubs, but Hoffenheim have indicated a willingness to table a cash offer that will come close to satisfying Marseilles demands.

"With coach Ralf Rangnick, we met Hatem and Marseille sporting director Jose Anigo," said Hoffenheim assistant coach Peter Ziedler. "We were immediately on the same wavelength. Hatem made a good impression on us and we absolutely want him."

Confirmation of Hoffenheim's interest has made Newcastle's task harder, but sources in France claim Ben Arfa has expressed a preference to move to England rather than Germany.

The midfielder, who has accepted he does not have a future at Marseille, is keen to ply his trade in the Premier League and is hoping to receive permission to travel to Tyneside for personal talks.

That will not happen until Marseille receive an offer they deem to be acceptable, and much will depend on Mike Ashley's willingness to sanction a permanent transfer this summer rather than deem an initial loan move to be a necessity.

His hand could be forced by ongoing developments regarding Cleverley. Sir Alex Ferguson is willing to allow the midfielder to leave on loan this season, but as with fellow youngster Danny Welbeck, the Manchester United manager is demanding he is guaranteed a starting spot with whoever he joins.

Newcastle are not in a position to promise that, with the likes of Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith and Danny Guthrie already battling for a central midfield spot next season.

Bolton, on the other hand, can effectively guarantee Cleverley a first-team role following the departure of Jack Wilshere, who spent last season at the Reebok Stadium on loan from Arsenal, and Trotters boss Owen Coyle has held a number of discussions with Ferguson this week.

Stoke and Blackpool have also expressed an interest in securing the England Under-21 international's services, but Bolton have leapt to the front of the queue and are hoping to complete a deal within the next three days.