Clubs hoping to sign Mikel Merino this summer are understood to be facing a delay with Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez unwilling to part with the midfielder unless a replacement is signed.
Benitez is currently assessing his squad options.
La Liga trio Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are all fighting to take the Spanish Under-21 back to his home country in the summer window.
The interested clutch of clubs believe a fee of around £10million will be enough to lure the former Borussia Dortmund man to Spain before the season kicks off.
Such a price tag would earn United a £3million profit but Benitez will not sanction any sale until he has signed a replacement.
Merino knows he will kick off pre-season as third choice in the club’s battle for midfield places and Benitez is keen to bring in a player that will challenge Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey for his two coveted engine room slots.
The Magpies have been linked with moves for a host of midfield men so far in this window including Juventus midfielder Stefano Sturaro, Swansea City’s Roque Mesa, and once capped Croatian international Lovro Majer.