‘I’m hearing’ - Newcastle United Christmas Q&A as potential new January transfer signing emerges

Newcastle United Christmas Day Q&A with our writer Jordan Cronin as he talks about the Premier League restart, January and the Boxing Day clash at Leicester City.

The Premier League is back. Newcastle United are 3rd - but will they stay there?

JC: “That’s the big question, isn’t it? Newcastle fans are daring to dream about the Champions League because sitting third in the Premier League table is no fluke, it’s on complete merit. With the way United have performed during the first half of the campaign, literally everything points towards them having every chance of finishing in the top four. But I don’t know, perhaps I’m still a pessimist as I have a feeling they’ll just fall short. The likes of Liverpool and Manchester United will get better, and Newcastle will need to maintain the outstanding form they’re in now. I’m saying top six, which would still be a great achievement.”

Will Newcastle United be busy in the January transfer window?

JC: “Newcastle have spent £210m in their opening two transfer windows under PIF but sources have played down expectations of similar spending next month. Sporting director Dan Ashworth, during a sitdown interview with the media at St James’ Park in October, said that kind of expenditure was “unsustainable”. Eddie Howe, only a fortnight ago, was of the mindset not to expect too much business. However, what I would say to that is, we heard similar noises last summer before United splashed £60m on Alexander Isak!”

What players will Newcastle United target in January?

JC: “I’m hearing Newcastle will look to sign a young right-back as an understudy to Kieran Trippier. It’s a position they’re a little light in currently after Emil Krafth’s ACL injury, so if Trippier were to spend a spell on the sidelines, then Howe only has Javier Manquillo to fall back on. West Ham’s Harrison Ashby is a link that is again gathering pace. Newcastle tried to sign the 21-year-old in the summer and could do again with the player now into the final six months of his contract. The form of the team has meant there are no obvious positions to strengthen but as is the case with Newcastle now, if a player they like becomes available, they’ll explore it.”

James Maddison - what about him?

JC: “I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I have been told a January move for James Maddison is unlikely. Leicester’s valuation of Maddison last summer was simply too high, hence why Newcastle failed with two bids. And after a strong start to the campaign plus an England call-up, you suspect Leicester won’t alter their stance. If Leicester decide to lower Maddison’s price tag, then, maybe - and it’s a big maybe - United will come back to the table. But at the moment. that’s looking unlikely.”

Speaking of Leicester - what’s your prediction for Boxing Day?

JC: “It’s a tough one to call because prior to the World Cup break, both Newcastle and Leicester were among the most in-form teams in the Premier League. But after a five-and-a-half-week break, you just don’t know how each team will come back. That said, the signs in midweek were promising for both sides - both sealed a place in the last eight of the Carabao Cup - so I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw.”