Rob Lee, while speaking exclusively with Football FanCast editor James Beavis, has shared doubt in Mike Ashley providing Steve Bruce with the funds needed for Newcastle United to sign a proven Premier League striker in the upcoming January transfer window.
The Magpies currently sit eight points above the Premier League relegation places ahead of hosting bottom-three strugglers West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, but have proven extremely reliant on summer signing Callum Wilson since his arrival from AFC Bournemouth.
Wilson has accounted for seven of Newcastle’s 12 top-flight strikes over the opening 10 fixtures, with Allan Saint-Maximin, Jacob Murphy, Jeff Hendrick and £40million record signing Joelinton each finding the back of the net just once.
Bruce is yet to see Andy Carroll score since making his Tyneside return in 2019, either, as the 31-year-old has been unable to break the goal line in any of his 30 outings in black and white after being released by West Ham following an injury-ravished spell in east London.
Reports have surfaced suggesting the Toon are on the hunt for offensive reinforcements this winter, tipping Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove as a potential £2m option to offer an improved level of depth behind Wilson and Joelinton.
And former Newcastle midfielder Lee, who spent 10-years at St. James’ Park, believes Ashley is loath to provide Bruce with the funds he needs to better the Magpies with a proven Premier League striker in January.
“When Callum Wilson doesn’t play, we look like we’re not going to score so we certainly need somebody who’s going to score some goals, but they cost a lot of money and I don’t believe for a one minute that Steve Bruce will be given a lot of money to spend,” Lee told Football FanCast.
“To get a proven goalscorer in the Premier League will cost you an awful lot of money, but I think we need a creative player. Someone who can play in the 10 from midfield, gets forward, scores goals, creates goals, because it’s alright having a centre-forward up there, but you’ve got to create chances for them.
“I think we need a right-back as well. When our team’s on the pitch, it’s okay, it’s not bad, we can cope with most people but when we’ve got a few injuries, we can’t cope and a Premier League team the stature of Newcastle used to have strength in debt, which we haven’t got.”
Wilson’s pivotal importance to Bruce’s plans stretches beyond his team-high seven goals in the Premier League, as the £20m former Bournemouth ace also accounts for the most shots (15), shots on target (8) and assists (2) by a Newcastle player thus far this term, while ranking second only to defender Jamal Lewis (9) for key balls (8) and second to Saint-Maximin (2) for big chances created (1), per SofaScore.
Bruce’s dire need for offensive reinforcements is further laid bare in Joelinton only finding the target with five shots in his nine appearances to date, yet ranking second to Wilson with Saint-Maximin only finding the mark on four occasions and Jonjo Shelvey – who missed three games through a groin injury – fourth with three on-target efforts to his name.
It remains to be seen if Ashley does put his hand in his pocket and coughs up the cash Bruce needs for Newcastle to sign a proven Premier League striker in January, but they certainly need one.