Remy Cabella has revealed he is “90 per cent” certain to leave Montpellier this summer, but sources in France suggest Newcastle United face stiff competition to sign the midfielder.
The Magpies failed to meet the Ligue 1 club’s £15 million valuation of the 24-year-old during the January transfer window.
However, The Journal understands a replacement for Yohan Cabaye remains a summer priority at St James’ Park, where Cabella’s name is still near the top of a list of creative, attacking targets.
Newcastle’s problem is other potential suitors, with Olympic Marseille thought to be leading the hunt for the French Under-21 international – whose contract expires in 2016.
Cabella said: “Now I know 90 per cent this is my last season at Montpellier. If a club make a proposal which interests me, Montpellier will let me go.
“I ask myself from time to time ‘is it good to go abroad now to discover something else or is it better to stay in France?’”
He added: “I’ve always said the big clubs’ interest means Olympic Marseille are one.
“The coach (Rolland Courbis) told me to finish the season, to focus and wait for the end of the season to see if there are possibilities.
“I focus first on my games, then we’ll see what happens, but Olympic Marseille area big club.”
Marseille coach-in-waiting Marcelo Bielsa was at the Stade de la Mosson last Friday to watch the team’s 3-2 away win over Montpellier, for whom Cabella scored the first goal.
Yesterday Les Phoceens’ interim coach Jose Anigo – who will return to his role as the club’s sporting director when Bielsa takes control of team affairs in the summer - said: “Cabella? I did not say you could not be interested.
“Players like that are expensive, but I think the club will be ambitious and aggressive in the market.”
They, too, face competition for Cabella, however.
The player’s father Hector acts as his agent and has recently been invited for talks with officials from Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan.
While sources in France have ruled out a move by Paris St Germain, they believe, although not a priority target, Cabella does interest both Arsenal and AS Monaco.
Meanwhile, reports in Italy claim AS Roma have placed Newcastle defender Davide Santon on their list of summer transfer targets.
The 23-year-old has endured an indifferent season on Tyneside and played in just one of the last eight games – the 4-0 home defeat by the Red Devils.
Santon has two years remaining on his current contract.
With Roma set to embark on a major close-season recruitment drive, sources suggest the club are keen to take the former Inter player back to Italy.