Three players Newcastle United should sign in January | THT Opinions

The Hard Tackle looks at three deals Newcastle United should complete in the January transfer window as Eddie Howe looks to bolster his injury-depleted squad.

Newcastle United will head to Merseyside, sitting ninth in the Premier League standings after an alarming dip in form and with a disappointing string of defeats to Luton Town and Nottingham Forest to bounce back from. It has been a tricky season so far for Eddie Howe, particularly with the ongoing injury concerns that will force some big decisions next month.

Howe has overseen a huge turnaround in the Magpies’ fortunes since replacing Steve Bruce at the helm. Heavy investment has helped the former Bournemouth chief put the club at the right end of the standings. And last season’s top-four finish saw them in the Champions League ahead of schedule.

That did not work out quite as planned this season, with the north-east outfit crashing out of Europe dramatically after the group stage. And they have struggled in the Premier League of late, with four defeats in their past five matches. Not to mention, last season’s EFL Cup finalists have also been ousted from the Carabao Cup at the quarter-final stage by Chelsea.

Injuries have taken their toll drastically, although Howe has not tried to hide behind a lack of numbers. Now, with their Champions League run over and a mountain to climb in the Premier League, Howe and co. must assess their alternatives with the January transfer market now open.

According to Daily Telegraph, Newcastle United are looking to sign “as many as three new players” in the new year. A midfielder and a forward are said to be the main priorities, and they could also bring in a new goalkeeper as they look ahead to a period without Nick Pope.

However, the Newcastle fans will need to approach the window with a pinch of salt. While they brought in some strong new recruits during the summer, their full reach was hindered due to profit and sustainability rules. And the same can be true this time around. So, they will have to be creative with their business.

With the 2023 January transfer window now open, The Hard Tackle looks at three eye-catching deals the Magpies should complete over the next month to boost their squad and salvage their faltering season.

Kalvin Phillips | Manchester City | Loan

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Before talking about our first player, who would potentially sort out the majority of their midfield issues, it must be said that Newcastle United have found a gem in Lewis Miley. The 17-year-old has made a surprisingly comfortable introduction to life in the Premier League and has not looked out of place amongst esteemed company.

His ability to remain calm in possession even in the most intense situations, get out of tight spaces with quick thinking and effortless turns, and have the energy to cover much of the ground are all commendable.

However, the Magpies will still target a midfielder during the January transfer window. Blockbuster summer recruit Sandro Tonali is banned from football for ten months after breaching gambling rules while at his previous club, AC Milan. Meanwhile, Sean Longstaff, Joelinton, Joe Willock, and Elliot Anderson have all missed significant chunks of the season through niggling injury issues.

This left the Magpies looking at a number of options, and a loan move for Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips is high on Eddie Howe’s agenda. The 28-year-old wants to join Newcastle, and he has made that clear to both Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. It is also understood that he will not be blocked from leaving, as the English champions are happy to see him depart this winter.

Given that positive discussions are going on between the two clubs, this one could be ironed out in the first part of January itself. The Citizens would like an obligation for Newcastle United to buy Phillips included in the transfer. But the Toon would much prefer to engineer a straight loan, or with an option to make Phillips’s move permanent at the end of the season.

To say Phillips’s £45 million move from Leeds United to Manchester City has been disastrous would be an understatement. Much of the talk has been about Phillips’s consistent lack of game time. The 28-year-old has played just 89 minutes in the Premier League this season, which is far from ideal given that Euro 2024 is approaching in the summer.

Plenty of the St. James’ Park faithful were calling for the arrival of a No. 6 in the summer, but Howe opted to strengthen his side in other areas. Bruno Guimaraes has been Newcastle’s go-to deep-lying midfielder. But more often than not, he pushes further forward to impact the attacking play thanks to his creativity, ball control, and ability to thread an eye-of-the-needle pass.

While that is all well and good, this leaves large vacant spaces in front of the defence for the opposition to exploit in transitional play. Phillips’s profile would give them more tactical flexibility and would allow them to evolve as a team by controlling games better and defending counter-attacks more effectively, as they have been scoring goals at an alarming rate recently.

With Phillips’s patrolling in the spine and showcasing his wide array of passing, the Magpies can also deploy more attacking left-back options than Dan Burn, as build-up won’t be an issue in that case, with the former Leeds United anchorman competent at winning aerial and ground duels. But there’s a big asterisk; this would all be true if Phillips was at his peak sharpness to fit Howe’s lung-busting system.

Serhou Guirassy | VfB Stuttgart | £15m

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The Magpies have struggled at the back but can still score a lot of goals. Alexander Isak (eight), Callum Wilson (seven), Anthony Gordon (six), and Miguel Almiron (three) give Eddie Howe options to build a potent attack. However, Isak and Wilson’s consistent injury issues have made it difficult for Howe to rotate his striking option, which could tempt him to dip into the market for a striking reinforcement.

Various recent reports have suggested that Howe has Serhou Guirassy on his shortlist of potential transfer options for the winter window. It is claimed that clubs Manchester United, Chelsea, and Real Madrid are also interested in signing the 27-year-old striker, who is fighting hard with high-flying Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane for the Bundesliga Golden Boot award this season.

Guirassy has been one of the most prolific strikers in Europe this season and had an amazing start to the 2023/24 season with Stuttgart, scoring a whopping 17 goals in his first 14 league games of the campaign, maintaining his impressive consistency to help his side compete for a top-four place. His goalscoring exploits have brought him to the attention of a number of clubs.

With a reported release clause of around £15 million in his current deal and affordable wage demands, the Magpies could well consider a move for the Guinea international.

He may well be a little too old for what Newcastle United are trying to build right now. But the 27-year-old’s amazing finishing ability in the box can definitely bring more goals to Newcastle and be a solid alternative to Isak and Wilson, being able to add more goals to their product. With that being said, it remains to be seen if the Magpies actually make a move for him and decide to add more firepower to their frontline.

Giorgi Mamardashvili | Valencia | £25-30m

Of those currently sidelined is Nick Pope, the Newcastle United goalkeeper who has proved a big success at St. James’ Park since his move from Burnley. With Pope suffering a dislocated shoulder that will sideline the player until March, Howe has been forced to turn to his deputy, Martin Dubravka.

However, the Slovak has conceded 14 goals in the eight starts he has made for the side since coming in to replace Pope. The 34-year-old is decent with the ball at his feet. But his shot-stopping and ability to command the box with a domineering presence fall way short in comparison to Pope.

Short-term options such as David de Gea have been widely reported as options being considered by the Magpies as they face up to life without Pope for the foreseeable future. However, we have gone for an alternative that could prove to be a masterstroke in the long run.

Even if Pope were to be fit right now, Newcastle United may want to start shopping around for a brand new goalkeeping option. Pope is undoubtedly one of, if not the best, shot-stoppers in the Premier League. But the modern game has progressed beyond having someone between the sticks who is just good at keeping the ball out of the net.

Modern-day goalkeepers need to be good with their feet; they need to be confident in receiving the ball back from their defenders and have the ability to spread it to another player to set up an attack, which is where Pope falls short.

Pope has been let down by his footwork far too many times, and he has already lost his place in the England side for the same reason. Valencia’s Georgian keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili is in demand right now, with Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Newcastle United all monitoring his progress, as per recent reports.

The 23-year-old has established himself as a key performer for the Spanish club, and he is undoubtedly one of the best shot-stoppers in La Liga. In fact, he was one of the main reasons behind Los Che securing survival by the skin of their teeth last season.

Tall, agile, and fast, Mamardashvili may be regarded as a more traditional keeper who dominates his area. But he has a front-footed sweeper-keeper approach to the game as well as his consistent passes to instigate quick attacks further upfield.

Having modelled himself on Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mamardashvili is better with his feet than Pope already and is certainly a player who could provide Pope with stiff competition for the No. 1 spot at St. James’ Park.

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