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NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United appear to have stolen a march on European giants Juventus and Arsenal by lining up a deal to sign Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes.

Arab News understands that while the player’s current club, Olympique Lyonnais, have publicly stated a deal has yet to be finalized, the framework for the transfer has already been agreed between the buyers, the sellers, the player and his representatives.

The fee is believed to be in the region of $45million, although the finer points of the deal are still to be ironed out.

Guimaraes is on international duty with Brazil, who face Ecuador at the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado in Quito tomorrow evening. It is thought he could undergo a Newcastle medical check upon his return to Brazil on Friday.

The signing of the much-coveted Lyon midfielder would represent a real statement capture for United, who so far have only managed to land Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood during the January transfer window.

Arsenal and Juventus have been tracking Guimaraes this season but both failed to show their hands, leaving the door wide open for Newcastle’s transfer negotiators, Amanda Staveley and Steve Nickson.

The player is understood to be happy at the prospect of swapping Ligue 1 for the top flight in England, even with the Magpies locked in a battle to avoid relegation.

At this stage, however, Lyon continue to make it clear, publicly at least, that a sale is not yet agreed. A statement posted on the club’s website on Wednesday read: “Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media reporting an agreement between Newcastle and OL for the transfer of Brazilian international midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.

“In this transfer window period where the slightest rumor is often presented as reality, Olympique Lyonnais reminds that only information officially released by the club is to be taken into consideration.”

As recently as December, Guimaraes, 24, expressed frustration with French football and revealed he is keen to learn English.

He told Brazilian media outlet Globo: “In France, there are moments where we play like robots; nobody tries to dribble, to find a pass, for example.

“That irritates me sometimes, it is a bit frustrating. I think that those who have talent should profit from that; try to dribble, try to link moves. If you do that, your game will be complete.

“There are moments where I should be more egotistical, as in try to finish well. Because I have a good pass, I think always that my pass will be what is necessary, so I pass when it is the moment to shoot.”

United are keen to recruit at least another three or four players before the transfer window in England closes at 11pm local time on Monday, Jan. 31.

The Magpies are hoping to tie down a deal for Bayer Leverkusen and Netherlands left-back Mitchel Bakker. It’s understood a deal is ready to be signed but can only progress if the Bundesliga outfit find a replacement for him between now and the end of the window. A fee believed to be in the region of $21.5million has been agreed between the clubs.

Meanwhile United’s frustrating pursuit of Brazilian Diego Carlos seems to have come to an end, with the club walking away from the deal. While an offer of about $40million remains on the table, Sevilla are said to want more than $50million, a price United are unwilling to pay for a player a little over a year away from turning 30.

With Newcastle in need of central defensive recruits, the club’s transfer committee, which consists of head coach Eddie Howe, assistant Jason Tindall, director Staveley and chief scout Nickson, have now turned their attention to domestic targets.

Geordie Dan Burn, currently with Brighton and Hove Albion, is one player United are keen on, and moves for Liverpool’s Nat Phillips and Tottenham Hotspur’s Joe Rodon cannot be ruled out.

It is understood that another high-profile move, for Jesse Lingard, has hit the rocks over the fee that Manchester United insisted on being paid should the Magpies remain in the Premier League come the end of the season. This was said to be on top of a loan fee paid up front for the 29-year-old.

The England international’s contract at Old Trafford ends in June and all parties were thought to be happy to strike a loan deal until the end of the Premier League season. However, the Red Devils’ financial demands put an end to the negotiations, at least for now.