Rafael Benítez has pinpointed Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross as his top transfer target this summer, according to The Telegraph.
Newcastle United could be in for a complete squad overhaul should they seal promotion with the Spaniard wanting at least six new faces to help them cope with life back in the top flight.
Benítez is said to be eager to bring a strong and reliable centre-back to the club and has identified Shawcross as the perfect man.
Ciaran Clark and current club captain Jamaal Lascelles have been the regular centre-back pairing this season but Benítez is said to be keen on bringing in more Premier League experience.
Chancel Mbemba and Grant Hanley have both had a handful of appearances this season but it remains unclear as to where their respective futures lie.
Shawcross is still a regular starter in the Stoke side with only Erik Pieters making more appearances this term. But with just one year left on his current deal and the Potters not yet offering him an extension, Benítez is confident a deal can be done.
The Englishman has been at Stoke since 2007 having initially signed on loan from Manchester United. Shawcross has since made 374 appearances for the club.
Benítez still has the reins
A move for an established Premier League defender such as Shawcross would quash any talk of Benítez no longer having a say on transfers given that the defender turns 30 this year – which goes against the previous ‘Mike Ashley blueprint’ of only signing players under the age of 26.
The Magpies are set to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking and currently sit in second position, ten points clear of third-placed Huddersfield Town.
Nine points from their remaining five game will be enough to guarantee automatic promotion, but they face a tricky Easter weekend starting with Friday’s game with Leeds United before travelling to Portman Road on Easter Monday to take on Ipswich Town.