Inter Milan full-back Davide Santon was on Tyneside this morning to undergo a medical with a view to completing a move to Newcastle, Press Association Sport understands.
The 20-year-old headed for England after the two clubs agreed a fee, understood to be in the region of £5million, with the Magpies' search for a replacement for Jose Enrique nearing a conclusion.
Santon, who was described as "the new Paolo Maldini" earlier in his career, spent the second half of last season on loan at Cesena after falling out of favour at Inter, initially under former manager Jose Mourinho.
The news will provide a welcome boost for manager Alan Pardew, who has waited patiently for a breakthrough after finally having to admit defeat in his efforts to hang on to Enrique, who completed his switch to Liverpool during the final few days of the close season.
PSV Eindhoven's Erik Pieters and Lyon's Aly Cissokho were also high on his list of targets, but with the club refusing to budge on its valuations during tough negotiations, a series of frustrating impasses were reached.
However, Press Association Sport understands a deal was struck with Inter over the weekend and Santon, who was also reportedly a target for Roma, flew in this morning ready to commit his future to the Barclays Premier League outfit.
The Magpies hope to wrap up the transfer today and then turn their attention fully to the search for a striker with Sochaux's Modibo Maiga still in their sights despite his return to action for the French club after a tense stand-off.
Newcastle have also been linked with a loan move for Manchester United frontman Federico Macheda as the scramble for reinforcements intensifies ahead of tomorrow night's transfer deadline.
Pardew's side has enjoyed a hugely encouraging start to the new Barclays Premier League campaign with a return of seven points from a possible nine to lie sixth in the table.
However, that has been achieved without last season's skipper Kevin Nolan and Enrique, and in the case of Sunday's 2-1 victory over Fulham, Joey Barton, who headed for promoted QPR late last week.
Disgruntled fans have waited less than patiently for owner Mike Ashley to placate them by investing in replacements - indeed, there were around 10,000 empty seats at St James' Park at the weekend.
It remains to be seen if the Magpies can secure Santon and the striker on which Pardew has set his heart, with the manager having indicated at the weekend that in an ideal world, he would also like a replacement for Barton and further cover at centre-back with Mike Williamson facing up to six weeks on the sidelines with an ankle problem.