Have Celtic been handed a boost in pursuit of EPL defender?

Celtic were linked with Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba earlier this season - and the Hoops look to have been handed a boost ahead of the close season.

According to reports in Newcastle, Magpies boss Rafa Benitez will almost certainly sanction the sale of the former Anderlecht player who moved to St James’ Park in 2015 for £8 million during Steve McClaren’s tenure.

Although the Congolese featured over 35 times in his first season with Newcastle, he fell down the pecking order following the arrival of Benitez and has made just 11 appearances this campaign.

The 23-year-old has been deemed surplus to requirements on Tyneside, and is reportedly a target for Brendan Rodgers.

Chancel Mbemba is expected to leave Newcastle over the summer. Picture: Getty Images

Although a fringe player, Mbemba is under contract until 2020 so will command a fee - but with Rodgers expected to bolster his backline during the close season ahead of another assault on Europe and the Scottish domestic trophies, Mbemba could be tempted by the offer of regular football.

He has made more than 50 league apperances for Newcastle, 12 of which came in the English Championship.