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Newcastle United January transfer window budget – How I would spend £150m

3 weeks ago
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Firstly, I would like to wish a Happy New Year and Happy January Transfer Window Opening Day to all Newcastle United supporters.

This is likely to be the most exciting transfer window we’ve had in a long time (ever?).

Instead of dreading the window and wondering if anyone is going to come in and snatch Allan Saint-Maximin for a sum of money that won’t be fully reinvested, we are wondering what calibre of players we’ll be attracting.

There are things we’ve heard a lot since the takeover.

All the money in the world won’t get us out of the mess we’re in

No decent player is going to want to join a relegation battle

We’re favourites to sign… (fill in any of a thousand names here)

The same papers and websites that are citing our inability to attract real quality, are then claiming that we could be in to sign anyone from Isco to Mbappe.

A common argument about players not wanting to come, is that they won’t want to risk playing in the Championship next season. That is a ridiculous idea. What quality player that doesn’t want to play in the Championship would be playing in it? Contracts might as well be made from toilet paper for what they’re worth. Look at the players that left last time we went down. If we sign top class players in this window and then get relegated, any player that wants to leave will be able to.

But if there is any lingering doubt in the minds of some of our targets, the signing of Kieran Trippier could be the catalyst that would see other players stand up and take notice.

A player with 35 caps for England. Playing in the Euro 2020 final less than six months ago, a big part of the squad that made it to the 2018 World Cup semi-final as well. A title winner last season with Atletico. He would improve us offensively as well as defensively. He’ll bring us a better quality of dead ball delivery, something we don’t really have a specialist for currently.

This link has been rumbling on for a while and seems to be the most likely of our proclaimed targets to be coming in and doing so early. Sky Sports are reporting that we have a bid in today. If this gets concluded quickly then it could set off a chain reaction of shiny new signings in this January transfer window that instantly improve the quality of the squad and first team.

Trippier has a £31million release clause but Atletico only paid £20 million for him and are set to potentially lose him for free in the summer, so I’ be surprised if we have to pay more than he originally cost. I’d say a figure as low as £15 million may even be realistic. Eddie Howe knows the player and signed him at Burnley. It would be great to hear that this move has been concluded by the end of the weekend.

Below, I’ve detailed the players I’d like to see follow him and the reasons for each. I’ve put in a rough estimate on price too…but it’s always a challenge predicting values of players.

Will there be a premium because it’s us?

Will Premier League rivals seek to avoid selling to us?

We’ll have all the answers by February 1st. Including the £15 million for Trippier, this is how I’d spend around £150million, which is well within our FFP allowance and the sort of money we need to invest to progress.

Sven Botman £40million

I’d never heard of this player before Ian McIntosh signed him on Football Manager 2022. Anyone with a subscription to The Athletic will know what I’m talking about. One of The Athletic’s journalists has been assigned the job of playing Football Manager as Newcastle under the new regime and writing articles about his season. This is literally my dream job.

When we got linked with him in real life, I did my research and this kid looks the business. Part of the Ligue 1 winning Lille squad last season helping his side beat the squad of superstars that PSG have expensively assembled. That Lille side conceding just 23 goals with Botman a key part of that, starting all but one of their league games.

He turns 22 this month and at that tender age, if he develops into the player he could become, he could be a stalwart for the next decade or so. Even if we got relegated, he’s young enough to appreciate the long-term project and potentially stick around to help us back up.

Nearly two metres in height but comfortable playing with his feet, he would be an instant improvement on any of our defenders. He suits the style Howe is trying to implement.

The latest reports are that we may be able to attract him for £30million so my valuation may be inflated. However, I would definitely hope we would stretch to £40million if needed.

Nathan Ake (loan with option to buy)

Another we’ve been linked with and another that has been signed by and played under Howe previously. I wouldn’t instantly splash the cash on this guy as he cost Man City over £40million and they may well expect similar from a club whose owners’ wealth now dwarfs that of their own. I’d opt for a try before you buy approach.

Again, Ake would be an instant upgrade on what we’ve got. He could slip in with his compatriot and forge an instant new back two. He can also play on the left if needed. If he does the business, we sign him in the summer. If Ake came in alongside Botman and Trippier we could have three defenders that won the league in different countries last season. Not a bad base to start with.

Kalvin Phillips £50million

Another article was published this week on The Mag and pipped me to this suggestion.

That author also selected Ward-Prowse. I wouldn’t turn down Ward-Prowse but I have a friend at work who is a diehard Saints fan and he insists that we’d have to pay £75 million to get him. Allegedly they asked for £50million when Villa bid for him in the summer. He has since signed a new five-year deal so their bargaining position is even stronger. As much as he would bring us from set pieces, I don’t think he is a good enough all-round player to be spending £75million on.

Phillips, however, has got it all. If Joelinton can continue his renaissance in his new box-to-box role, then he and Phillips could be phenomenal together. I know it’s early days for the Brazilian and he has a lot to do to prove his consistent ability. But if he can produce regular performances at 75% the level of his one against Man Utd, he will be a revelation for us.

If that happens, then he and Phillips would be a better midfield than any of our relegation rivals and quite a few of the teams in mid-table too. Leeds are trying to entice Phillips with a new contract but can the prospect of being the heartbeat of a new era at Newcastle turn his head?

Lingard £20million

Just look at what he did for West Ham last season. Yes, it was in a better squad that were performing well and were more confident.

However, he is a quality player and I think would add goals from out wide which is something we are lacking.

Fraser is starting to show a bit of hunger and Almiron could have a good half season if he finds the net soon. Murphy offers us an option too. But asides from ASM, nobody has got a wing position locked down.

With ASM and Fraser both players that are susceptible to injuries too, it makes sense to strengthen in this area and a player like Lingard would be perfect to improve the competition for those places. With six months left on his contract we shouldn’t be paying over the odds to secure a proven Premier League player in his prime.

Vardy £20/30million

This is a controversial one and might seem a bit pie in the sky.

Firstly, as a fanbase we’ve had some clashes with his wife so there’s every chance neither he nor we would be keen on the move.

Secondly, why would Leicester let their talisman go?

Thirdly, why would we go for a player that’s not far off retirement.

Well for me, points two and three complement each other. He turns 35 this month and probably only has this season and next playing at the top level. If Leicester were offered £20 to £30 million for him now, I think they would consider it.

Why should we buy him? He’s an excellent striker that would instantly move us up a level. He can still match / beat most defenders for pace and his link up play and finishing are exceptional. He’s a proven Premier League goal scorer with 127 goals at this level (93 of those since he turned 30). He’s also currently third top scorer this season. He could replace Wilson when injured, or play alongside him when fit. He’s experienced a relegation battle before (not to mention a title win the following season…but let’s not get carried away).

He’s got 9 goals already this season and if he could come close to matching that in a Newcastle shirt it’d be huge in helping us survive. It is a lot of money for someone that might only play eighteen months of football for us but, if he keeps us up, it is money well spent.

He recently got injured and won’t return for three to four weeks so he would miss the relegation six pointers against Watford and Leeds, but having a player of his quality coming in for our kind February schedule would be a huge boost.

Eddie Nketiah (loan)

It worked last year, didn’t it? Take a fringe Arsenal player and thrust them into our team and they bang in loads of goals to steer us to safety. Alright, lightning may not strike twice but we need more forward options so the loan of a young player could be the way forward.

He’s not had loads of opportunity at Arsenal, but he has played for all the England age brackets since U18 and has scored 38 goals in 38 games through those levels including 16 in 17 at U21!

Surely worth a punt and someone that Arsenal wouldn’t be too worried about letting go.

Of course, we have the small issue of making space for these players. Our squad is full, so we need to get players out the door to allow any of the new recruits to get involved.

For me, the players going out would be;

Woodman on loan. Ideally, it’d be great to see him go to a Premier League club so we can see what he can do at this level. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any that are desperate for a first choice keeper. So back to the Championship it’s likely to be.

Ciaran Clark has been a solid player for us in the past but, in the present, he has little value. Get what we can for him and send him off to the Championship.

Emil Krafth had a good game against Man Utd and does well occasionally, but we need consistency now. With Trippier hopefully coming in and Manquillo in reserve, we can afford to lose a right back. Should be able to get a few million for an international player.

Jeff Hendrick should be given away if that’s what it takes. Pay him off if we must, a complete waste of a squad space.

Joe Willock has struggled this season. A lot of people are writing him off, but I still think there’s a player there. It’s a big ask for that player to be found during this relegation scrap so it might be worth giving him another six-month loan spell. Half a season in the Championship may see him find his shooting boots again and he can try and grow into the team next season, surrounded by better quality.

Dwight Gayle has been another waste of a squad space. He doesn’t get any first team football unless it’s an absolute, unavoidable necessity. I’m sure a championship team will stump up a couple of million for him. Whether we can shift him after giving him that new contract is another matter. Might be a case of paying off his contract or contributing to some of his wages at his new club.

Matty Longstaff is coming back after a disappointing loan spell at Aberdeen. Get him straight back out. This time to a Championship club that are likely to play him as much as possible. Do your homework on this one Shola.

Jamaal Lascelles… This one is controversial and a huge decision to make mid-season. However, dropping him as captain would be difficult, which then makes dropping him from the team tricky. I personally like Lascelles and I wish he had grown into the formidable centre back and captain we had hoped he may become. He’s 28 now so if he isn’t the rock we need now, he never will be. I think we could still get a few million for him from an ambitious Championship club or maybe one of our relegation rivals.

I think if we got Botman and Ake in, both players should be starting ahead of our current skipper anyway. Then the likes of Schar and Fernandez are arguably as good if not better than the skipper too. We’d be a little light in the centre back places but Hayden when back can slot in, as can Manquillo. The forgotten man Paul Dummett should return at some point too.

Including loan fees, I think we’d end up spending about £150 million to sign the players I’ve identified but we probably wouldn’t get much for the outgoing ones.

I’m interested to see suggestions from others in the comments.

What would be your number one priority? Would you be targeting a keeper? Is there a player that we’ve been linked with that you’d desperately like to see us sign? Who would you be shipping out?

Whatever happens in these busy 31 days of the January transfer window, I look forward to seeing how our team looks In February.

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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