Newcastle look to bolster defence
Newcastle could be ready to bolster their defensive options in January with the signing of Celtic centre-back Virgil van Dijk, as Alan Pardew looks to replace MapouYanga-Mbiwa.
With just three recognised central defenders in the squad, Pardew knows the importance of adding strength in depth at the back if the club are going to be able to start putting some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
An impressive 2-1 away victory over Tottenham saw the Magpies pick up just their second Premier League win of the season, easing some of the pressure currently on the shoulders of the Newcastle manager.
The lack of defensive numbers comes after the club allowed central defender Yanga-Mbiwato leave the club and sign for Roma without being able to sign a replacement in time. It’s believed that van Dijk was the defender who Newcastle had lined up to replace the Frenchman in the summer but failed to get the deal across the line in time.
While Celtic’s dismal start to the season has seen their title odds significantly lengthen in the Scottish football betting despite the lack of any real challengers, van Dijk has continued to enhance his reputation south of the border with some impressive performances.
Van Dijk was a Newcastle target in 2013 before he made the move from Groningen to Celtic for a bargain price of £2.5million. A year later and it would cost Newcastle a fee of around £8million to tempt Celtic to sell the 23 year old to the Premier League side in January – a figure which has increased in the months since the club failed to act quick enough to sign van Dijk.
With money reportedly still available to him to sign players, Pardew will be hoping to be given the green light to sign the young defender in January, although Mike Ashley’s recent investment in Rangers could have an impact on Newcastle’s shopping budget.
Van Dijk has played 65 times with 7 goals for Celtic since signing on for the Scottish champions last year, and the 23-year old would tick all the boxes should Newcastle come calling again in the New Year.
That said, Celtic would be far from keen in selling one of their star players in a season when there appears to be a genuine possibility that the club might achieve the impossible and fail to win the league. Currently fourth in the SPL behind Dundee United, Inverness CT and Dundee United, Celtic manager Ronny Deila will be hoping to keep his best players in a bid to turn around a shocking first half of the season.
While Newcastle have finally started to find their feet this season, it does look as though a potential relegation battle could be looming for Pardew and his men. With Ashley seemingly preoccupied with his growing interest in Rangers, there is as much uncertainty surrounding Newcastle as there is the Scottish giants.
It remains to be seen just how much Ashley will back Pardew in January, or if the current manager will even still be in a job come the New Year.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]