Newcastle United transfer Q&A: What next for Steve Bruce after his Mike Ashley transfer summit?
Sixteen down, 15 to go.
The clock is ticking in the winter window but Newcastle United are yet to significantly act.
From World Cup winners to Ligue 1 hitmen, links and rumours have been coming in thick and fast but what will the window hold for Steve Bruce?
Our writer Liam Kennedy has tackled the main issues with Newcastle's January window, as well as what to expect come February 1.
What can we make of Bruce’s meeting with Mike Ashley?
It is significant. Ashley’s return to the scene last night is a positive thing, even though few fans will share that view. The fact he is interested can only be a good thing, especially as we all know how bad it can get when he looses interest.
What makes you think Bruce will get a different result to Rafa Benitez in talks with Ashley?
Bruce has taken a totally different approach to Bruce.
Since the summer noises from those around Bruce at the club has been his want to keep the owner on side. He feels like he can get more results on the transfer front, if he works with, rather than declare war on Ashley.
This month could well prove whether his approach is paying dividends, but even Benitez got what he wanted 12 months ago with Miguel Almiron, even when he refused to cooperate with the club’s transfer team or Ashley.
So, what does Bruce want this month?
In an ideal world I think Bruce would bin at least three of four of his squad and bring in the same number. He feels the need to add Premier League experience to his ranks in certain areas and following the loss of Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon, as well as the struggles of Joelinton, it's obvious where he wants to add.
A midfielder with the legs of a Mo Diame is seen as a must for Bruce and his coaches and a creative spark – whether a winger or attacking midfielder – ranks high on the January wishlist.
What’s the hold up? When will Newcastle get active in January?
The Magpies are working away behind the scenes with, as Bruce would put it 'plates spinning'. But this is nothing new. Even clubs who do not intend to do business will be fielding calls and laying the groundwork in case a surprise comes their way.
The end of the window is when things might well hot up.
United have already seen moves for the likes of Cenk Tosun – club turned it down – and Olivier Giroud – player opted for Inter Milan – fail this month.
What is the January signing blue-print?
Such is the way at NUFC, but the manager's ideas on who to add are slightly at odds with the ideal type the club's hierarchy like to recruit.
A Joelinton, or Allan Saint-Maximin tick almost every box for the club – and as we know did not tick the boxes for the previous manager.
Bruce, as Benitez before him, wants to sign Premier League experience, or at least top flight-ready players.
I would expect United to look to do continental loan deals (much lower cost than domestic ones) as well as explore any deals for the future – academy signings, etc.
Could players leave United this month?
Definitely. It would be more of a shock if some didn't. Jamie Sterry, Henri Saivet and Jack Colback's time at NUFC is done. Sterry will be looked at by League Two and National League clubs but will likely see out his healthy United deal to the summer, Saivet has a year left but the club will look to see out the door while Colback is problematic.
He would have departed but finds himself in the midst of a serious knee injury. The midfielder will, unfortunately for Bruce, likely hang around.
Bruce will have to wriggle room in his squad somewhere, if he wants players in - Ki Sung-yeung is done at St James's Park and Dwight Gayle, Yoshinori Muto and others will be allowed to leave, if offers come United's way.
Expect Kelland Watts and Elias Sorensen to be sent back out, as well as Rolando Aarons.
Who are United looking at?
While a lack of clear striker targets has some concerned, a player able to fit into Bruce’s counter-attacking style at United could prove just as valuable.
And I think that's why links to the likes of Ademola Lookman make perfect sense. He ticks a lot of the boxes United look for, including the troubles and the doubts, as much as the talent.
Is there money to spend?
There is money to spend, but whether that gets spent will probably be determined in the transfer summit.
I think it would be unlikely United would go big this month, like they did Miguel Almiron last year, but if a deal can be brought forward and represented value (young, sell on value, etc) then I wouldn't 100% rule it out.
Will United end the window stronger than they started?
You have to hope so. I think they will do at least one deal and even though it is likely to be an unproven talent from the continent, something is better than nothing. Competition for places can sometimes improve those already at the club.
As I said last week, United CANNOT rely on Carroll, Gayle, Muto and Joelinton to carry them safe. They need to add something in the final third.