Newcastle United's priorities amid a changing post-takeover transfer landscape

For once, money isn’t such a problem at Newcastle United ahead of the January transfer window.

The bigger issue is whether Eddie Howe and the club’s recruitment team can find players capable of strengthening the squad who are prepared to join a team which is 19th in the Premier League.

Agents, mindful of the wealth of the club’s new ownership group, have put the names of numerous players to the club since October’s takeover.

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Most of these will already have been discounted by those overseeing the club’s preparations for next month. It’s less about big names, and more about players who can make a big contribution in a short space of time.

For his part Howe – who has pleaded with journalists not to over-speculate on targets – wants to get more out of the players he inherited from Steve Bruce.

January priorities

The squad needs strengthening in several areas.

Newcastle’s defensive problems this season have highlighted the need for reinforcements at the back.

Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier is a potential target for the club, though another centre-half is surely also needed.

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United’s midfield is also missing something, though Howe believes that Joe Willock, the club’s only summer signing, will find form in the second half of the campaign after a difficult few months following his move from Arsenal.

Another striker surely must also be on the club’s wishlist, though goalscorers are notoriously hard to get over the line, especially in January.

Dwight Gayle hasn’t got starts when Callum Wilson has been injured this season, despite being labelled as a like-for-like replacement by Howe. So if he’s not the answer when Howe is without Wilson, then who is?

The club can’t rely solely on Wilson for goals – and back-up for him is needed.

Howe’s approach

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Howe was meticulous about recruitment during his time at Bournemouth.

The club did its homework on potential signings. Players had to be the right fit on AND off the pitch, and this approach helped the team, in League Two when Howe was first appointed, reach the Premier League.

Up to now, Howe has been focused on the club’s games – and these have been coming thick and fast this month.

“January’s so difficult to predict,” said Howe earlier this month. “I could sit here and give you a whole host of numbers (on how many signings), and it would be pointless, because things change on a daily basis.

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“Processes are happening above me to prepare for January. My immediate focus, with the number of games we have, is the team and the players we have and trying to maximise their ability.”

Transfer expertise

Newcastle, looking to appoint a director of football, recruited Nick Hammond as a recruitment advisor on a short-term contract.

Hammond joins Steve Nickson, the club’s longstanding head of recruitment, at St James’s Park.

Premier League experience is a priority, but bringing that in will be easier said than done given the apparent antipathy felt towards the takeover by some of the Premier League’s more powerful clubs.

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Other teams in the bottom half of the table will not want to strengthen a relegation rival in the window.

Hammond and the club’s new owners face a challenging window, but, at least, they have the money to sign players – and that’s a good start.

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