Rafa Benitez explains EXACTLY where Newcastle are at in their search for January reinforcements

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United are whittling down a list of potential January transfer targets.

The Championship leaders ended the summer transfer window with a £30million-plus profit.

And United could reinvest some of that money in the New Year – if the “right players in the right positions” become available.

Newcastle – who take on Leeds United at Elland Road tomorrow – have been linked with Steven Gerrard, who will leave LA Galaxy next month.

Benitez, however, says the club are not necessarily looking to sign a “name”, though he didn’t rule out a move for the 36-year-old midfielder, who he worked with at Liverpool.

“I think it’s important to understand that we have a good squad,” said United manager Benitez.

We want to find the right players in the right positions, but we are not in panic, because we are doing well.

Rafa Benitez

“January’s always a difficult market, because the good players are playing in good teams, and they will be in Europe or at the top of the table.

“They would like to stay there, so you cannot bring these players in.

“If you want to bring players with experience of the Premier League, but not top-level players, then we have already very good players here.

“What we are doing is looking for the right players in each position and seeing who’s available, who can sign and who would be a positive addition to the team.

“It has no sense to bring players in that you don’t need. We have two players in each position.

“We know that some players will go to the African Cup of Nations. We will have to live with it.”

A number of players are yet to make a contribution to the club’s Championship challenge.

“At the moment, we have players that are not playing,” said Benitez.

“(Daryl) Murphy’s not playing, (Jesus) Gamez is not playing, (Massadio) Haidara’s not playing, (Cheick) Tiote’s not playing.

“We have a lot of players who are not playing, and they could be new signings for us.

“But we want to balance the team. We want to find the right players in the right positions, but we are not in panic, because we are doing well.”

Gerrard, keen to get into coaching, has reportedly been in contact with MK Dons about the club’s vacant managerial post.

The 36-year-old has also been linked with a reunion with former Liverpool manager Benitez on Tyneside, though Celtic are favourites to sign him.

“I saw the Press talking about that,” said Benitez.

“Stevie’s one of the best players I have coached, and he knows about football.

“Maybe it’s a challenge for him as a manager.

“I haven’t had any contact with him. We are just making sure we are ready for our game and we leave the speculation for the media.

“I’m happy with the players I have at the moment, and I don’t want to create more expectation.

“If something happened, we would consider it, but it’s not a priority.

“We don’t need names. We don’t need to bring in these kind of players to make the difference, because we are already doing well.

“What we need is the right players for our team to find the balance. Maybe we will need young players that can grow. That is more or less the idea.”

Benitez does not need to sell, though midfielder Cheick Tiote – who is out of contract next summer – is likely to depart in January.

“We didn’t need to sell in August,” he said. “Now we are doing well and we have profit. Football is the priority, and everybody is focused on that.”