Exclusive: Newcastle United could make January move for Belgium international

Belgium international midfielder Axel Witsel is understood to be on Newcastle United’s January radar.

Belgium international midfielder Axel Witsel is expected to be made available by club Borussia Dortmund - and Newcastle United are understood to be weighing up a move.

NewcastleWorld can exclusively reveal that Witsel’s availability in the winter window has been floated to United representatives, and it’s thought the player is of interest for the Magpies, with the club keen to bolster their midfield ranks when the window opens.

Magpies’ head coach Eddie Howe has attempted to publicly play down any early January talk, with nine games still sitting between United and the chance to recruit. Howe understands the importance of getting a tune out of his players over the next six weeks, which could easily prove decisive for Newcastle’s chances of remaining in the Premier League.

However, attentions have turned to strengthening behind the scenes at United - and Witsel’s possible availability is one option that has been discussed.

Axel Witsel of Belgium controls the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at Football Arena Munich on July 02, 2021 in Munich, Germany.

Witsel has been a key player for Dortmund this season with the Belgium international playing 18 times for the club.

At 32, though, it is thought his future will be played out elsewhere, with reports in Germany suggesting Dortmund have already lined up his midfield replacement in Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria.

Serie A giants Juventus are understood to also be keeping tabs on Witsel.

Having been largely neglected for the last five years, midfield and defensive recruits are being seen as priorities in the short-term for United.

Witsel has connections to the United coaching staff, with newly reconfirmed assistant head coach Graeme Jones working with the player during his time with Belgium.

Jones was last night confirmed in his position alongside Howe’s other coaching staff members.

Jason Tindall was also named as assistant head coach, with Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone as first-team coaches. Ben Dawson and Simon Smith were also kept on as part of the setup, which has seen Dan Hodges arrive from Bournemouth’s sports science department.

A club statement also confirmed the exit of two of Steve Bruce’s coaching appointments, Stephen Clemence and Steve Agnew.

It read: “The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Steve and Stephen and wishes them well for the future.”