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Newcastle United: Craig Hope claims a new central midfielder is priority for Toon

Newcastle United have entered the January transfer window with a new central midfielder at the top of Dan Ashworth’s to-do list.

What’s the word?

The Magpies have been handed a number of injury setbacks in midfield already this season with Bruno Guimaraes missing a number of games and Jonjo Shelvey barely featuring through his respective injury. Setbacks in a key area of the pitch to big players which seem to have left Eddie Howe feeling slightly short in midfield.

This is according to the reliable Toon correspondent Craig Hope, with the Daily Mail journalist claiming a new midfielder is now the ‘absolute priority’ for the Magpies this month:

“You know central midfield, from what I’m hearing and again that was reinforced by one or two conversations today [Saturday], is the absolute priority,” Hope said on his YouTube channel.

A number of names have already been linked with a potential move to Tyneside ahead of this month’s transfer window with the likes of Youri Tielemans among the list of potential winter targets.

Another name which is believed to be on Ashworth’s radar is the 21-year-old Moises Caicedo from his former club, Brighton & Hove Albion who he signed from Independiente in 2021 for a fee of around just £4.4m.

Ashworth is also said to have set his radar on options from across Europe with Ajax’s Edson Alvarez a potential option alongside the brother of Marcus Thuram, Khephren Thuram, who is currently showcasing his talent out in Ligue 1 with OGC Nice.

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Area for improvement

Newcastle’s midfield has certainly become one of their strengths under Howe with the signing of Guimaraes seeing the Brazilian become one of the most impressive players across the league in that position.

The Brazilian has been a revelation on Tyneside having as he finds himself in the top nine percentile for non-penalty goals, completed dribbles, tackles and blocks (via Fbref).

And alongside him has been his fellow Brazilian, Joelinton, whose improvement under Howe has been nothing short of remarkable with the 26-year-old’s turnaround being hailed by Jamie Carragher in recent days.

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However, Shelvey’s absence has left a gap in Howe’s three-man midfield which has not exactly been claimed with any real conviction by either Joe Willock nor Sean Longstaff.

Willock’s goal-scoring prowess shown during his loan spell under Steve Bruce is now a distant memory with the Englishman scoring just four goals under Howe.

And Longstaff has been slammed for his display in the 0-0 draw against Leeds United on Saturday as the Englishman squandered opportunities to snatch all three points.

With the Magpies flying in the Premier League and Champions League football a real possibility this season, it does feel like a quality partner for Guimaraes and Joelinton could be a big addition for Howe.