A new report on Tuesday morning has detailed three signings that Rafa Benitez definitely wants to make in January.
The report in The Chronicle states that their information is that the Newcastle boss wants these three signings as a minimum, though he hopes/expects more.
The priorities are a centre-forward, a new number ten, plus a left-back.
No doubt like me, many of you are getting seriously strong feelings of deja vu about this, as this feels/sounds like pretty much every transfer window since promotion.
The search for a proper Premier League level left-back, who can attack as well as defend, has been going on for even longer than that.
Whilst if Mike Ashley had allowed proper investment in a decent quality centre-forward and number ten, back in summer 2017, who knows where Newcastle could be now? Certainly not in the relegation zone with only three points from a possible 30 and very likely to be relegated.
It is total false economy as you see a reliance on loan striker Rondon, £5m Stoke reserve Joselu, the totally unreliable Perez, plus £9.5m signing Muto – who the jury is still very much out on, including exactly where he is supposed to be playing in the formation.
It is all the more galling when Newcastle can then sell a striker for £22m (rising to £27m) and still not allow realistic signings to be made, in terms of the likelihood of being good enough.
The idea of Mike Ashley allowing proper backing for Rafa in January is surely pure fantasy.
The Chronicle put forward Ruben Loftus-Cheek as Rafa’s ideal January signing but declare it ‘would have to be an eye-watering deal to get that one over the line’ in this next transfer window.
This is where it gets bizarre, if you sell players for £22m/£27m then why should it be seen as ‘eye-watering’ to then buy them for similar.
Not forgetting of course that under Mike Ashley, Newcastle have also sold Carroll for £35m, Wijnaldum £25m, Sissoko £30m and Cabaye £20m, whilst at the same time he has refused to break Newcastle’s 13 (soon to be 14) year club transfer record.
In the two and a half years Rafa Benitez has been at the club, the most he has been allowed to spend is £12m on any individual.
The January 2013 transfer window (after refusing to allow investment in summer 2012 after finishing fifth – sounds familiar!) saw five players bought to try and ensure Premier League safety, showing signings can be easily made if Ashley wants deals to be done.
Interesting to see what, if anything, he does this time.
‘Benitez wants a forward, competition for Ayoze Perez’s number ten shirt and a left-back as a minimum in the January window.
And while there is uncertainty over his budget, he hopes the return of Mike Ashley to United matches will help him and managing director Lee Charnley to get some of his targets signed off.
His ideal capture in the January transfer window would be Ruben Loftus-Cheek but with his domestic loans all used up – and Chelsea’s Kenedy already on board – it would have to be an eye-watering permanent deal to get that one over the line.
Newcastle blocked some of his desired permanent moves in the summer because the players didn’t fit the age profile – with the Salomon Rondon deal dragging on because United did not want to commit to the sort of financial terms being mooted by player and club. Benitez had also targeted Craig Dawson and Andros Townsend but found moves for both difficult.
And that may mean Benitez’s desire to sign an experienced Premier League marksman like Troy Deeney – who is 29 but would add some know-how to United’s front-line – may also have to be shelved.’