The January transfer window - what to expect from Newcastle United
And year after year we see managers across the land doing said 'tough deals' in their abundance - Newcastle United, in recent times have been no different.
Last January was a particularly busy month for the Magpies - and Steve Bruce is definitely in the market to strengthen his ranks in 2021, too.
But what can we expect from United between now and the close of the window? Liam Kennedy takes a look at the likely ins, likely outs and possible deals in the making at Newcastle.
Those at risk this month
Should Newcastle United look to strengthen this month - and it is understood they are keen - then they will have to make room in their first-team squad to do so.
But which players are most at risk of the chop?
Due to a lack of gametime you have to look at DeAndre Yedlin as a player who could be moved on this month. Out of contract in the summer, his time at United is done.
Fabian Schar is another who may well leave, if an offer comes his way.
The situation with others is a little less clear. Andy Carroll's future has to be uncertain given the lack of games he has played for United this season- and the lack of impact he has had when called upon.
Could his departure be used to free up space for a new recruit? It's not known whether this is something Bruce has, or is, considering. Either way his long-term future at the club has to be in doubt, with his current deal up at the end of the season.
Shifting the dead wood a financial priority
Trimming the fat around the first-team fringes would free up some vital wriggle room in Newcastle United's budget this month - but wanting to so, and actually doing so are two totally different propositions.
If United can find buyers, or simply takers, for Christian Atsu, Henri Saivet, Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons this month, you might even see them flex their financial muscles in support of Bruce.
If they don't - and all look a tough sell bar Aarons - loans are the order of the day. Even with departures United might look to replicate the kind of window they had this time last year when Valentino Lazaro, Nabil Bentaleb and Danny Rose arrived on temporary deals - hopefully with a little more success.
Possible loan departure
The situation of Matty Longstaff looks to be an interesting one.
Half of the Championship are keen to take him on loan, and while not playing for the first-team much this season, he is seen as vital cover, particularly as he does not come under the Premier League 25-man squad umbrella due to his age.
But if development is valued then he must be sent out because games have inexplicably proven hard to come by under Bruce.
Derby County are one club very keen, as well as East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest, who currently have Geordie Jack Colback in their midfield arsenal.
Temptations but could well remain
Dwight Gayle and Jacob Murphy are two players who are likely to court interest in this window but may well stay for differing reasons.
Both players see their contracts at United come to an end in the summer and while Bruce is a fan of both players, he may be torn about whether to stick or twist, with one likely to easier to allow to leave than the other.
Murphy is wanted by Rangers and two or three Championship clubs and if space is needed in the squad, as with the summer, the former Norwich City man may prove a useful bargaining chip. Bruce likes the player, though, and the winger has proven a decent option either at right back or further forward.
Gayle is someone Bruce has gone on record about wanting to secure a new deal for.
The problem is his wages - the same significant wage which has seen him priced out of a move to the second tier in more than one window.
The areas Bruce has eyes for
Bruce is keen to freshen up his United squad this month and, as mentioned, is likely to be granted freedom to explore the loan market with Mike Ashley remaining at the head of the regime.
A central midfielder should be at the very top of his list of priorities but it seems that a central defender is the position Bruce is most keen to recruit.
Phil Jones has been mentioned in dispatches so has Marcos Rojo.
It remains to be seen whether Rob Holding is made available, because if he is Bruce will likely dive in to get the man who came within a whisker of a United move in the summer.
Jetro Willems remains a possibility, but a free transfer would have to be granted by Eintracht Frankfurt.
Another striker option is a possibility, but it looks like defenders right, left and centre are being considered. Midfielders, at this stage, seem a secondary concern given the depth of links to backline operators.
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