Liverpool and Newcastle United are reported to be chasing highly rated Valenciennes defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin.

The Reds have emerged as frontrunners for the 21-year-old's signature, having scouted the Frenchman all season, according to Metro. Meanwhile, Magpies' scout Graham Carr has urged his club to table an offer soon.

Nicolas Isimat-Mirin

The report claims the Ligue 1 side are ready to do business in January for a figure of around £4m and would favour a deal that allows Mirin to remain in France on loan until the end of the season. Paris St Germain (PSG) and Lyon are also interested in the centre-back, but the player is understood to be keen on a move to the Premier League.

Schalke Confirm Holtby Departure

Meanwhile, Schalke 04 have confirmed Liverpool and Arsenal target Lewis Holtby has refused the club's offer of a new contract and the midfielder will leave as a free agent in the summer.

The Bundesliga outfit received a huge boost two weeks ago when striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar signed a contract extension, ending months of speculation. However, they have now suffered a setback with Holtby's decision to leave.

"We wished that Lewis saw his future at Schalke. But like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar now he has made a personal decision that we respect. We are sure that he will give everything up to the last day of the season to make the contribution of our team successful," the club's sporting director Horst Heldt said.

Lewis Holtby

Holtby, who has an Everton-supporting British father and a German mother, has admitted his affection for Arsenal's style of football but has also indicated he would welcome a move to Liverpool.

"I know there are concrete offers and clubs are interested. I have always said that one day I would play in England. I wouldn't even rule out Liverpool, even if it would be tough for my dad - he's an Everton fan," the 22-year-old told ESPN.

The Germany international has three goals and eight assists from 25 appearances so far this season. Schalke finished top of Champions League Group B, which also included Arsenal; the Bundesliga side will now play Turkish club Galatasaray in the first knock-out round.