Newcastle United were first linked with Nicolas Nkoulou back in 2015.

That summer the then 25 year old central defender had a year left to run on his Marseille contract and was reported to be available for £7m.

Instead, Newcastle signed Chancel Mbemba from Anderlecht, whilst Nicolas Nkoulou saw out the last year of his Marseille contract before joining Lyon as a free agent.

After only 13 Ligue 1 starts in 2016/17 for Lyon, he was allowed to go on loan to Torino last season.

Back on top form, the now 28 year old centre-back helped Torino to ninth place in Serie A and was voted player of the year by supporters.

Exercising a low £3m buyout clause, the Italian club made the deal permanent at the end of June.

However, his form has caught the eye of a number of clubs.

L’Equipe report that the Cameroon international has been the subject of a bid from Sevilla that was turned down, with both Newcastle United and West Ham also said to have registered their interest.

When rejecting the Sevilla bid, the Torino president claimed the club weren’t interested in selling, but it remains to be seen what will happen as they could make a quick significant profit on the £3m they have just paid.

The Time reported this morning that despite the current state of play at Newcastle, Rafa Benitez still hopes to bring in six new signings. Ironically, it is Chancel Mbemba who is one of those who will definitely need replacing, reportedly having been told by Rafa to stay away from the training ground until he finds a new club.

The Mag – 10 July 2015:

Newcastle United are now being linked with a move for Nicolas Nkoulou.

Nkoulou is a 25 year old central defender who plays for Marseille and is Cameroon’s Captain.

Moving from Monaco to Marseille for £3m in 2011, The Times report that Newcastle could move for the defender who has only one year left on his contract at the French club.

A number of clubs have been linked with the player, including Arsenal and recently Lyon, but Marseille are said to be determined not to sell to another French club.

A fee of £7m has been put on the player’s head and both Villa and Sunderland have also been credited with interest.

Standing at 5ft 11 he wouldn’t be the kind of central defender you’d pair with Fabricio Coloccini, though many Newcastle fans now believe that the days of the current United Captain being an automatic starter are behind him.

With news this morning that Georginio Wijnaldum is on his way to Tyneside to discuss terms, having that one signing almost over the line does then give any additional new transfer stories a fraction more credibility as the club look at last to invest in credible players.

With Aleksandar Mitrovic also looking like a strong possibility to actually sign for Newcastle as well, surely money will also be spent on the defence.

Graham Porter