Top Four Push Continues – How Newcastle May Line Up After the January Transfer Window

Newcastle squad applaud fans after game

With it now being almost 15 months since the fans of Newcastle United had their hopes and expectations completely turned around courtesy of a Saudi takeover, supporters will now be hoping for some more investment from the owners in the January transfer window in order for the club to continue what has become a very strong bid for a top-four spot in the Premier League.

Despite showing a dip in form with an FA Cup loss to Sheffield Wednesday and a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday, spirits amongst the fans remain high, and expectations are growing. But who seems to be among the Magpies’ top transfer targets this January, and how may they lineup come the end of the window?

Potential Newcastle Line Up Following January Transfer Window

Goalkeepers

Since joining Newcastle at the start of the summer transfer window last year, Nick Pope has asserted himself as the absolute number one at St James’ Park. He has put in some mega performances since his signing; conceding the least goals out of any Premier League team this season. As a result, the goalkeeper position is not one that needs strengthening. That said, they have recalled loanee Martin Dubravka from Manchester United 6 months before his spell in Manchester was scheduled to end. Dubravka will more than likely play backup duties behind Pope from now until the end of the season.

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Defenders

The club defence must also be given a great deal of credit for their outstanding defensive record this season: with special mentions deserved for club captain and fan favourite Kieran Trippier and Dutch summer signing centre-back Sven Botman. In the Premier League, the Magpies have named an unchanged back four consisting of the aforementioned two, alongside Fabian Schar and Dan Burn, since the start of October. However, concerns have been raised about squad depth in the full-back positions.

At Left-Back, they are looking to strengthen upon Dan Burn. The two favourites for the position are Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy and 19-year-old Barcelona prospect Alejandro Balde. When looking at the play-style of these two, it is clear that the Magpies are looking to invest in a left-back capable of more attacking output. This is evident through comparing Burn’s shot-creating actions per 90 this season, averaging 0.56 per game (falling in the bottom 25% of full-backs in the Premier League). On the other hand, the potential signings both average over 2 shot creating actions per 90 this campaign (fbref.com). This is indicative of full-backs getting more involved in attacking moves.

Despite both Mendy and Balde being willing to get forward, which player Eddie Howe’s team sign may play a large role in whether or not Dan Burn drops to the bench. Mendy is in his prime at 27 and Newcastle have reportedly made a “very big offer” for the Frenchman (Footmercato.net), which would be valued at around £40 million. Balde on the other hand would be much cheaper at around £15 million, and at 19 would be considered a long-term signing, despite his clear ability shown in his 3 assists in 14 La Liga appearances this season.

Midfield

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It is arguably the Toon’s midfield that has been Howe’s biggest achievement since he took the job in November 2021. Brazilian duo Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton have been a revelation under Howe, and sporting director Dan Ashworth is reportedly keen to bring in a third Brazilian to centre of the park, with them keeping a keen eye on Flamengo star Joao Gomes (Rudy Galetti).

Gomes is renowned for being a player very similar to Bruno Guimaraes, comfortable carrying the ball, completing 1.4 dribbles per 90 this season compared to Bruno’s 1.5. The 21-year-old picked up 2 assists in 2022, yet was also in the top 1% of players for tackles per 90 in the Brazilian Serie A, at 4.2 per 90 (fbref.com). His versatility and youth provide a great template from which the English manager can build the player of his liking. Gomes has a release clause in his contract of around £60 million, but the side would be unlikely to pay this full price for the youngster.

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Another potential addition to the ranks is Manchester United midfielder Scott Mctominay, although a move to St James’ would more likely come in the summer despite Howe being a “keen admirer” of the Scottish international.

Attack

Injury returns

The return of Swedish striker Alexander Isak FA Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday certainly bolsters the attack that has been heavily reliant on Miguel Almiron this season. That said, the club with the richest owners in world football will no doubt be looking to expand upon their forward ranks.

Transfers

The first player of note is an 18-year-old Brazilian who has earned comparisons to Vinicius Jr.: Matheus Franca. Franca has been valued at around £15 million according to Torcedores, and the dynamic attacking midfielder who tends to operate in and around the edge of the box would certainly be worth a go for Newcastle. He has scored 4 goals in 7 starts for Flamengo this season and averages 3.3 progressive passes per 90, in the top 5% of all players in the Brazilian Serie A (fbref.com) However, if he expected to start for the English side should he sign, he would likely be looking at a position on the left of midfield, in a similar role to what Joelinton has been playing in light of Allan Saint-Maximin’s injury.

With the departure of Frank Lampard from Everton in recent days, the prospect of 21-year-old Merseyside youngster Anthony Gordon leaving Everton for the Magpies has emerged as a real possibility, but under the assumption that Everton are willing to depart from their £80 million valuation of the winger last summer. Newcastle’s offer seems more likely to be in the £25-30 million range. Gordon’s form has dropped off since the summer transfer window and Newcastle feel that the fee for his transfer should alter accordingly. Gordon’s commitment to his football and high-intensity style could see him become a fan favourite at St James’.

The post-January lineup

Considering transfers that are considered the ‘most likely’ according to transfermarkt, The Newcastle lineup come February 1st could be:

Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Mendy, Guimaraes, Gomes, Joelinton, Gordon, Wilson, Almiron

This eleven would certainly go a long way toward securing them a Champions League spot for next season, especially if they have the likes of Franca to produce strong attacking output from the bench.