Sky Sports News’ Keith Downie and Lyall Thomas take a look at Newcastle’s plans for the January transfer window as they battle against relegation from the Premier League.
Newcastle are working hard on a wish-list of players provided by Eddie Howe to improve their squad in January and try to survive in the Premier League.
The new head coach and his staff have drawn up a catalogue of talent they would like to sign – but they have found themselves between a rock and a hard place as they try to balance the short-term task of survival and a longer-term vision that may include the Championship.
The club have been linked with a string of high-profile names from across Europe since the new Saudi Arabia-backed owners took over – and they do have the financial muscle to be able to afford them.
But Sky Sports News has been told that many of these players are reluctant to join a relegation fight and even more keen to avoid playing in the second tier during a World Cup year.
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At least one full-back and centre-back is a priority and Jason Denayer, Sven Botman and Matthias Ginter are among the names on this list. They also want central midfielders and have interest in Dennis Zakaria and Gerson. Strikers are on the radar too and they have been looking at Sardar Azmoun.
But due to the difficultly of attracting this calibre of player into a relegation battle, loaning in Premier League players struggling for game-time at their current clubs and/or signing the best of the Championship’s talent, who could make the step up while also being effective if they get relegated, are seen as more viable markets.
Therefore also high on the list is Blackburn’s Ben Brereton Diaz – the Championship’s second top-scorer with 19 goals – who could potentially play up-front alongside Callum Wilson, and Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge, who has played in the Premier League before but recently went down with an injury.
Newcastle also remain keen on centre-backs Joe Rodon at Tottenham and Mason Holgate at Everton, who have both struggled for game-time at their respective clubs this season, following interest in the summer. Should these clubs need their squads due to Covid-19 cases, however, this may also create another obstacle.
Then there is Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier, whom Newcastle really want to bring to the club next month but could face rival interest from other Premier League sides. Manchester United were keen on him in the summer, for example, and there are others in the market for right wing-backs.
Trippier’s contract at Atletico Madrid expires in the summer but there is a clause that could see it extended until 2023 if he plays the required number of games, although he is not expected to reach it before January due to an ongoing shoulder injury.
It is this opportunity that clubs are looking to take advantage of and Newcastle are said to be increasingly confident they can convince him to move to Tyneside.
Conducting this business with no permanent recruitment chief in place does make things more challenging, however, and it means Howe has a big say on who Newcastle will sign in this coming window, but with lot of work to do while also coaching the team.
Ex-Celtic, West Brom and Reading director of football Nick Hammond has been brought in on a temporary basis to help but he is expected to see deals over the line once they are in motion, leaving long-term head of recruitment Steve Nickson, Howe and their network of contacts to drive the pursuit of targets.
Newcastle were given permission to speak to Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth last week for their long-term sporting director role but Howe was tight-lipped on talks when asked about it on Thursday morning.
“I highly respect Dan and his work, but I won’t go into any more than that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right. He works for another football club.”
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The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.
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