Darwin Nunez of SL Benfica celebrates scoring his sides third goal with Lucas Verissimo during the UEFA Champions League group E match between SL Benfica and FC Barcelona at Estadio da Luz on September 29, 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The January transfer window is open for business and there are few clubs being spoken about more than Newcastle United.
The Magpies - boosted by the considerable financial muscle of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund - are set to be big players over the next month with up to six players expected to arrive on Tyneside.
Genuine quality rather than quantity is the aim as the United hierarchy look to boost Eddie Howe’s squad in a bid to preserve their Premier League status and allow the next stage in the rebuild at St James Park to take place at the highest level.
Adding a striker to the Magpies squad was also on the agenda but the injury suffered by top goalscorer Callum Wilson in the recent home draw against Manchester United means the addition of two frontmen could now be a high priority.
Jovic on NUFC’s radar
The name of Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic has been discussed and it is believed United’s head of recruitment Steve Nickson has watched the Serbian international on a number of occasions over the last three years.
Jovic has struggled to make an impact with the La Liga giants after moving to the Bernabeu from German club Eintracht Frankfurt in a deal worth over £52 million in the summer of 2019.
The powerful frontman may not have shown his best in Madrid, but his tally of 40 goals in 94 appearances during his time in the Bundesliga shows that he could be a useful addition for Newcastle if he can recapture his form.
A loan deal is said to be in the offing - although sources in Spain suggest Jovic - an international team-mate of former United striker Aleksander Mitrovic - is keen to fight for his place with Real.
Dembele under consideration
Lyon striker Moussa Dembele ticks several boxes for the United hierarchy - but there are said to be understandable concerns over his current injury.
The 25-year-old has experience playing in England after breaking through at Fulham and he continued his development with a prolific spell at Celtic.
His form in Glasgow persuaded Lyon to part with over £20 million for the then-France Under-21 international and he repaid their faith with a goal return of 49 goals in just 121 appearances.
The striker is still finding his way back to full fitness after suffering a calf injury earlier this season but is a player that is definitely attracting interest from the Magpies.
The surprise Uruguayan bid?
There is also a tentative interest in Benfica’s highly-rated striker Darwin Nunez.
The Uruguay international has become a prolific goalscorer with the Portuguese giants after plundering his way to 32 goals in 67 appearances in all competitions during a two-year stay at the Estádio da Luz.
Nunez has also shown what he can do at the highest levels after scoring three goals in six Champions League appearances to help his side qualify from a group containing Bayern Munich and United’s former Champions League opponents Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev.
A fee of around £50 million has been speculated and the striker has also been linked with the likes of West Ham United, Brighton and Premier League champions Manchester City in recent months.
He could be one to watch for United supporters this month.
A Brazilian flop’s second chance?
Another player mentioned in recent days is Flamengo’s Brazil international Gabriel Barbosa.
The 25-year-old failed to shine in Europe during his time with Inter Milan and a short loan spell at Benfica - but has become a cult hero since returning to his homeland.
Barbosa - who has been linked with Manchester United and Liverpool in the past - helped Flamengo win the Campeonato Brasilerio Serie A title and scored twice as the Rio Di Janeiro-based club lifted the Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 win against River Plate.
He is said to be open to a move to England and a January loan deal with a possible permanent switch to Tyneside has been speculated.
The second tier option
One intriguing option and a player watched by the Magpies on a number of occasions this season is Blackburn Rovers striker Ben Brereton-Diaz.
The former Nottingham Forest forward became an unexpected international star after scoring three goals in nine games for Chile and he has taken his form into the Championship this season.
The 22-year-old has 20 goals in 25 appearances for the former Premier League champions and Leeds United, Brighton and Spanish club Sevilla have also been linked with a move for the striker who is expected to command a fee of over £20 million.
Outside chance? The out-of-favour loan options
For a club where ambition and excitement were conspicuous by their absence, it is unusual to see the Magpies linked with the likes of Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial.
It would be a surprise to see either player wearing black and white by the time January ends - but both are rumoured to be leaving their current employers over the coming weeks.
Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by Gunners manager Mikel Arteta following a “disciplinary breach” last month and that should raise concerns for any possible suitors.
Martial is believed to have informed Red Devils interim manager Ralf Rangnick he wishes to end his seven-year stay at Old Trafford.
Sevilla saw a loan bid rejected in recent weeks but it does look likely Martial will leave the 13-time Premier League champions in the near future.
A move to Tyneside, at this stage, seems unlikely.
More weird and wonderful names will be linked with Newcastle over the coming weeks - but all that matters is the Magpies finding the right strikers to boost their bid for survival.