Newcastle United problem can be solved with one of these two January transfer options

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Newcastle are planning for their fifth transfer window under Eddie Howe in January

Newcastle United fans have already been treated to some memorable moments in the opening three months of the 2023/24 season. They opened the campaign with an emphatic 5-1 home victory over Aston Villa, fired in a staggering eight goals away at Sheffield United, knocked Manchester City out of the Carabao Cup and remarkably thrashed a PSG team 4-1 on their first home game back in the Champions League.

Newcastle fans have great reason to feel optimistic in the early stages of the season and although they sit eighth in the league table they can take great pride in their start after a tremendously testing run of fixtures. However, the international break has come as a blessing to Eddie Howe’s squad as they acclimatise to the gruelling nature of balancing European and domestic duties. Injuries to the likes of Sven Botman, Joelinton, Joe Willock and Harvey Barnes have all tested the team in the early stages of the season and the intensity of the fixtures is only going to increase in the coming weeks and months, particularly if Newcastle successful prevail from the so called ‘Group of Death’ in the Champions League.

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The international break offers Howe and his scouting team the perfect opportunity to look at fine-tuning their team ahead of the January transfer window. With that in mind we assess the main areas that Newcastle needs to improve in the winter.

What Newcastle need to do in the January transfer window

Eddie Howe is preparing for his fifth transfer window as Newcastle boss and he faces a very different challenge to the one that he first faced when he arrived in the dugout less than two years ago. Howe inherited a team that were struggling for confidence and marooned in a relegation battle - they conceded a record 80 goals in a calendar year in 2021 and had failed to win any of their opening 14 games.

Newcastle at that time needed Premier League experience and leadership and they got that just that in the form of Dan Burn, Kieran Trippier and Matt Targett, while star quality was added in the midfield in the form of Bruno Guimaraes. Phase two of Howe’s plan was to add further star quality and Sven Botman and Alexander Isak were the marquee signings along with an experienced shot stopper in Nick Pope.

The following two transfer windows have mainly cast an emphasis on youth and building for the future and the likes of Anthony Gordon, Tino Livramento, Lewis Hall and Sandro Tonali have all joined the ranks. Newcastle are now stacked with squad depth in most areas of the field but one area that seems short on quality squad depth is central defence.

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The Toon Army conceded just 31 goals last term which was remarkably the club’s best record in the Premier League era and unsurprisingly also the best in the division alongside champions Manchester City. Throughout that time Newcastle opted for a consistent pairing of Sven Botman and Fabian Schar but that stable partnership has been unsettled on several occasions this season due to injuries.

Botman’s absence was showcased in the defeat 3-1 to Brighton last month, where Newcastle were torn apart by Evan Ferguson, Karou Mitoma and Solly March. While the recent 2-2 draw with West Ham also showcased Newcastle’s fragility at centre back in the Dutchman’s absence.

As it stands Newcastle have just two centre back squad options which are Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett, while Dan Burn is currently utilised in the left back area. Lascelles and Dummett are two popular names with fans who are undoubtedly great leaders behind the scenes, but both players were around during the Championship triumph in 2017 and it is clear that Newcastle need an upgrade in that area.

A number of names have been linked with a potential move to Tyneside including Piero Hincapie of Bayer Leverkusen and Antonio Silva of Benfica. But one name who seems a perfect fit for the demands of Howe’s team would be Fikayo Tomori.

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The AC Milan defender impressed against Newcastle during the 0-0 draw at San Siro and was a standout performer from the host who was able to nullify the threat of Isak. This is far from the first time that Tomori has shone on the European stage and he also helped Milan reach the last four of the Champions League last season.

The central defender is experienced in England and has been on the fringes of a winning environment at Chelsea, while he also played a prominent role in helping AC Milan to their most recent Scudetto title in the 2021/22 season.

Tomori is blessed with tremendous pace and athleticism which would make him perfect for an Howe system with Newcastle pressing opponents high up the field. The England defender is seen as a huge asset at the San Siro and like Sandro Tonali would likely cost a marque fee to lure to St James’ Park, which could be a stumbling block with FFP regulations.

Another potential solution could be Joachim Andersen of Crystal Palace. He has started the season in tremendous form and has emerged as a vital player for the Eagles. The 27-year-old offers tremendous height at 6ft4 and is also viewed as a tremendous ball playing defender. Football Insider has previously suggested that Newcastle will return to the table to try and sign the player in January after a reported bid was rejected at the end of last summer.

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