Napoli have pinned a £27m price tag on in-demand midfielder Fabian Ruiz amid growing speculation about his switch to the Premier League.
Ruiz has just over a year left to run on his current contract at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Despite Napoli’s relentless efforts to tie him down to a new deal, there have been no signs of a breakthrough in extension talks thus far.
Aware of the possibility that he could lose one of his most prized assets for free as early as next January, the Partenopei chief Aurelio De Laurentiis is ready to sanction his exit this summer on a cut-price deal.
Ruiz has been the omnipresent figure in Napoli’s midfield since arriving from Real Betis in 2018, registering over 160 appearances for the Italian side.
Though Napoli finished third in Serie A last season, the 26-year-old enjoyed a stellar individual campaign.
In 32 league outings in 2021/22, he racked up seven goals and four assists, with six of those strikes coming from outside of the box.
Ruiz’s sublime form has not gone unnoticed, with Newcastle reportedly leading the chase after Eddie Howe identified the Spaniard as his number one priority.
The Magpies secured the services of Bruno Guimaraes in January, but they are still keen on adding a new face to their midfield.
But Newcastle will have to overcome stiff competition from Arsenal and the Manchester clubs to get to Ruiz’s signature first.
Since he has decided to cut ties with Napoli, the ex-Betis man could be one of the top stories of the summer.
While the Magpies will not be concerned about financial obstacles after becoming the world’s richest club last season, they may have to deal with other roadblocks.
Ruiz wants to leave Naples but only for a side that can guarantee him European action next season.
After an 11th-place Premier League finish last season, Newcastle cannot meet that requirement, leaving the door open for Arsenal and other suitors.
However, the Gunners have already completed a £34.2m signing of Fabio Vieira from Porto, making it hard to commit to another expensive midfield addition.
It means Man City and United could swoop in and steal Ruiz under their noses, with the latter already in the market for a new deep-lying midfielder.
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