It feels like only yesterday the summer transfer window slammed shut, but we’re now under two weeks away from the official opening of it’s winter counterpart.
Meanwhile, it’s been an interesting Premier League campaign for Newcastle; starting off with huge protests against manager Alan Pardew but soon followed by a superfluous run of form, leaving the Magpies just outside of the Champions League spots.
With some smart signings in January, the Toon could land a place in Europe’s top tier competition, whilst there’s plenty of deadwood piling up on Tyneside too.
With that in mind, here’s a list of three players Newcastle could axe in January, followed by their three reported replacements.
A nightmare which appears to have no end for Alan Pardew, the Newcastle boss sent mercurial winger Hatem Ben Arfa packing to Hull City during the summer on a season-long loan, but the Frenchman has already boomeranged his way back to St. James’s Park.
The 27 year-old failed to record any output in 384 minutes’ worth of Premier League action for the Tigers, whilst his infamously limited work-rate particularly fell afoul of manager Steve Bruce.
A discussion over Ben Arfa’s future quickly lead to him leaving for Paris, and Bruce has now confirmed that the former Marseille man won’t be returning to the KC Stadium.
Likewise, Alan Pardew has dismissed a Tyneside return, but still on the Toon’s books, it’s up to them to find a buyer in January.
Although frustrating, Ben Arfa’s natural pedigree has never been in doubt. Take this wonder-goal against Bolton Wanderers for example:
Thus, as his agent has claimed, it’s likely Newcastle can find a suitor prepared to take a punt on the former France international.
Papiss Cisse has found a new lease of life this season, emerging as the Magpies’ top scorer in the Premier League with seven goals, whilst summer signing Ayoze Perez has notched up a respectable return of four goals in seven starts too.
But it’s believed Newcastle want to further strengthen their forward options in January, with the object of their transfer desires being Burnley’s Danny Ings:
— FootballFanCast.com (@FootballFanCast) December 2, 2014
Of course, the 22 year-old rose to prominence last season by netting 21 times to fire the Clarets to the top flight, also earning him the Championship’s Player of the Year award. Here’s a clip of the England U21 in action with strike partner Sam Vokes:
It’s taken a while for Ings to adapt to Premier League level but he’s shown great promise over the last few months, bagging four goals and two assists in his last eight Premier League appearances.
Most appealingly from Newcastle’s perspective, the 5 foot 11 striker is yet to extend his current contract at Burnley past the end of the current campaign – suggesting he doesn’t rate their Premier League survival chances too highly.
Manager Sean Dyche has already admitted a January departure is a distinct possibility but recent reports claim the Toon will face competition from local rivals Sunderland for his signature:
Sunderland are set to join neighbours Newcastle in the race to sign Burnley striker Danny Ings. Gus Poyet… http://t.co/msFUUfSHer
— NY (@youngi31) December 17, 2014
Certainly not a departure by Newcastle’s design; youngster Ronaldo Aarons has made sensational progress since he joined the Toon from Bristol City in 2012.
This season, he’s found an inaugural Premier League goal against Crystal Palace:
And also netted past Manchester City in the Capital One Cup:
The 19 year-old attacker looks like a real talent, one Alan Pardew will be desperate to hold onto, but recent reports claim Aarons is holding out on a new contract:
— 50K Lost Souls (@50kLostSouls) December 19, 2014
With just 18 months left on his current deal and Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and even German side Schalke known to be keen on the England U20, the Magpies could be forced to sell.
The heart of Newcastle’s defence is in desperate need of some January reinforcements, and one long-term defensive target believed to be on their radar is Celtic star Virgil van Dijk:
— Newcastle Watch (@NewcastleWatch) August 21, 2014
The 23 year-old is unanimously viewed as the Scottish top flight’s leading centre-back, having emerged as an integral component of the Bhoys’ starting line-up since his Parkhead arrival two summers ago.
Tough and athletic yet supremely confident on the ball, leading to an impressive return of 11 goals in 76 outings for the Scottish champions, including this superb free kick:
…Van Dijk epitomises the modern trend of technically gifted, front-footed defenders.
Celtic were unprepared to part with the former Netherlands U21 during the summer, but may be more reasonable in January now that they’re eliminated from the Champions League.
There’s some hefty competition for his signature however, particularly from Premier League sides Arsenal and Liverpool:
Liverpool challenge Arsenal for Celtic defender Van Dijk – Liverpool have joined the race for Celtic defender Virg… http://t.co/ItgMDGyRDz
— Gunners News (@arsenalnewsonly) December 19, 2014
If there’s one player Newcastle will look to sell in January on the grounds of poor performance, it’s most likely holding midfielder Vurnon Anita.
The occasional Netherlands international certainly has talent and is clearly a hard worker, but he’s never truly established himself as a first team regular since leaving Ajax for Tyneside in summer 2012.
Having recorded just 291 minutes’ worth of Premier League action this season, Anita is reportedly unhappy with his limited role at St. James’s Park.
But with Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote proving more formidable options in the central midfield berth this season and youngster Mehdi Abeid now breaking through, the time feels right to cut the 25 year-old loose.
Here’s a clip of Anita netting an absolute banger because… well, why not?
Another striker believed to have caught the Magpies’ transfer attention is Marseille front-man Andre Pierre-Gignac:
— NUFC News (@nufc2day) November 18, 2014
The 29 year-old has endured a turbulent career, often met with chants of ‘un Big Mac pour Gignac’ in prior seasons due to his debatable fitness.
But he’s currently enjoying the form of his life in front of goal, emerging as one of the most potent strikers in Europe’s five leading top flights, as detailed below:
With his contract set to expire at the end of the season and a new deal yet to materialise due to recent tax raises over in France, the Magpies could land the Tricolores forward in a cut-price deal. He’d certainly provide some much-needed variation from their current strike-force of largely lightweight and diminutive front-men.
Whether Gignac will be prepared to leave Stade Velodrome in January however, whilst his side are at the top of the Ligue 1 table, remains to be seen.