Anticipation is rising ahead of what could be one of the most decisive transfer windows in the modern history of Newcastle United.
Mike Ashley is no longer at the helm as the Magpies instead see themselves backed by the Saudi Arabian Prince Investment Fund. In simple terms, that means money, and lots of it.
With Newcastle believed to be targeting a central defender this winter, a number of familiar faces have already cropped up on their radar.
Bayern Munich stalwart Niklas Sule has been linked with a move to St James’ Park but perhaps one of the most eye-catching names came to light on Wednesday.
According to The Times, the club’s new owners view Italy as a suitable market to explore in January and could turn to Inter Milan as a result.
They suggest that defensive wall, Stefan de Vrij, is one of the players they want to bring to English football.
If Amanda Staveley and co can seal a deal to bring de Vrij to St James’ Park in the coming months, it would be an almighty statement of intent and one that would surely have new manager Eddie Howe in dreamland.
After all, the Dutch titan is one of the sturdiest defenders in Europe, winning glowing praise from many within the footballing world.
Former Lazio teammate Mauricio waxed lyrical about him to ESPN (via Football Italia), saying: “Stefan is a great defender and deserves to be at a big club. He’s very tall, he’s strong and fast, he runs a lot – he’s a monster! He’s a calm defender who never gets agitated.”
Combine all of those qualities together and you have what can only be described as the perfect defender.
So far this term, the 29-year-old has won a whopping 2.5 aerial duels per game and has completed 90.5% of his passes in the Italian top-flight. That tally sees him rank higher than anybody to start a game at Newcastle this term.
The £45m-rated defender loves to get stuck in but his passing defines that of a modern centre-back, proving he has everything you could want in his locker.
Signing de Vrij would be particularly important when considering how poor Newcastle have been from a defensive point of view this campaign.
They sit 19th in the table and their haul of 24 concessions is the second-highest in the entire Premier League.
With that in mind, strengthening their defence is the dream for Howe ahead of January, and in a certain Inter centre-back, they could do exactly that.