Newcastle United sent firm message over transfer pursuit of £46million defender

Eddie Howe is targeting a central defender during the January transfer window.

Sven Botman has been a target for Newcastle United

Lille president Olivier Letang has sent a firm message to Newcastle United and other potential suitors for Sven Botman.

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The Dutch defender was a primary target for the Magpies during the transfer window, with Eddie Howe keen to strengthen his options at the back.

Reports have suggested that Lille have already knocked back two bids from the Magpies, while AC Milan were also said to be interested in the the 22-year-old.

The Sun suggested that a fee as high as £46million could be required to prise Botman away from the Ligue 1 side - but their president has now confirmed that the centre back will remain with Lille until the end of the season.

Speaking at a press conference, Letang said: “We were already asked for Sven last summer, but we were clear: we need him for this season.

“We are making a move also in the Champions League, where we qualified for the second round as top of the group. There are some important goals for this second part of the year, so Botman will stay with us to pursue them until the end of the season.”