Axel Tuanzebe in action against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend

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Newcastle United are hoping to sign Manchester United centre back Axel Tuanzebe as =Steve Bruce pushes the club’s hierarchy to finally make a breakthrough in the transfer market after more delays in their attempt to re-sign Joe Willock from Arsenal.

With Manchester United close to finalising a deal to sign France international centre back Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, Tuanzebe could even become Newcastle’s first signing of the summer.

Both a loan and permanent transfer have been discussed between the two clubs although, given Newcastle’s limited transfer budget, the former would seem more likely at this stage.

Tuanzebe made 18 appearances for Manchester United last season but has been unable to establish himself as anything more than a squad player and, at the age of 23, the time seems right for a move.

Although he has not made the progress he would have liked at Old Trafford, he would appear to be a good signing for Newcastle as he has all the attributes needed to be a top quality Premier League defender.

Tuanzebe, who played for England at age group level, has played for Bruce before during two loan spells at Aston Villa in the Championship. Newcastle have room in the squad for another centre back after Florian Lejuene joined Alves last week.

The Magpies are hopeful of signing Willock and remain in the race for Chelsea youngster Conor Gallagher despite rival interest from Crystal Palace and Leeds United.

As revealed by Telegraph Sport last week, the Magpies are still waiting for an answer on their bid for Willock. Interestingly, a permanent move, rather than just a loan, is thought to be back on the table as the Gunners look to raise funds for their own recruitment needs.

Newcastle's pursuit of Joe Willock (right) is ongoing

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Willock has continued to operate on the fringes of the Arsenal side in pre-season but has not agitated for a move at this stage. 

Newcastle have not put a deadline on talks, but there will come a point when they need a definitive answer from both Gunners manager Mikel Arteta and the player.

As things stand, Bruce is willing to give Willock more time to make that decision but he does want new signings made before the start of the season.

Bruce has asked for three or four new faces before the opening game against West Ham, but is also mindful of the fact that the market remains sluggish which is likely to mean a flurry of deals happen in the final days of the window next month.

Meanwhile, Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow is recovering at home after he was admitted to hospital with a Covid-19 infection last week.

The 30-year-old suffered severe dehydration and will not be able to return to training until medical staff are happy there are no long term side effects.

It leaves the Magpies with a big problem as first choice goalkeeper Martin Dubravka could be out for several weeks with an ankle injury.

That is likely to mean Freddie Woodman, who was due to join Bournemouth on loan last week, starts the season in goal for the Magpies.