The transfers on the agenda as Newcastle United hope for double breakthrough ahead of Watford clash

Transfers are well and truly on the agenda for Newcastle United this week - and here’s the lie of the land at St James’ Park.

This was always going to be a big week for Newcastle United in the transfer market - and Saturday’s chastening FA Cup defeat to Cambridge United has only intensified the need for new recruits.

Having already added Kieran Trippier to his squad in the opening days of the winter window, Eddie Howe is targeting further recruits this week as he looks to build a squad capable of dragging the Magpies up the Premier League table.

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And with a crucial game against struggling Watford on the horizon, there will no doubt be a desire to finalise signings as quickly as possible - with Howe hopeful that incomings could be finalised ahead of Saturday’s game.

So what deals will the club be looking to push over the line this week, and where do they stand currently? We take a look:

Defender deal being prioritised

It’s no surprise to have seen Newcastle linked with a host of defenders in recent days, with Howe’s desire to strengthen his backline having been made clear.

The club’s top target is Lille’s Sven Botman, who has been attracting interest from across Europe after some stellar performances in Ligue 1.

(L-R) Lille’s Portuguese defender Jose Fonte, Lille’s Dutch defender Sven Botman, Lille’s Canadian forward Jonathan David and Lille’s Mozambican defender Reinildo Mandava celebrate scoring during the UEFA Champions League group G football match VfL Wolfsburg v Lille LOSC in Wolfsburg, northern Germany on December 8, 2021.

Italian giants AC Milan have been mooted as potential buyers, but reports from Italy over the weekend suggest their interest in waning.

Indeed, the Rossoneri’s sporting director Frederic Massara told Sky Italia that he felt Lille were unlikely to sell in January.

The Magpies are understood to have seen initial attempts to bring the player to St James’s Park rebuffed. - but that hasn’t deterred Newcastle, who have returned with a fresh offer.

Botman’s own social media activity last week has only fuelled the belief that the player himself is keen on a move to St James’s Park, while Howe last week refused to comment on the speculation.

Sevilla defender Diego Carlos has also been touted as a potential option, while reports this morning have suggested that Benoit Badiashile of Monaco could be another player on Newcastle’s radar.

West Ham’s Issa Diop and Lloyd Kelly, currently at Bournemouth, have also been linked as Newcastle cast their net far and wide.

But as reported by NewcastleWorld this morning, a move for Burnley’s James Tarkowski is unlikely - with Burnley loath to lose a key player to a relegation rival.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United is challenged by James Tarkowski of Burnley during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on December 30, 2021 in Manchester, England.

But for now, the focus remains firmly on Botman - and there will no doubt be plenty of supporters monitoring flights from Lille to the North East in the coming days as the Watford clash draws ever nearer.

Forward force required

With Callum Wilson facing eight weeks on the sideline, fresh attacking faces are another immediate priority for Howe and the club’s transfer team.

But as is the case in every transfer window, goalscorers are in high demand and short supply.

They can often be the hardest deals to get over the line, and so it would be little surprise if signings in this department take a little longer to arrive.

But in an ideal world, Howe would no doubt be keen to bolster his forward options ahead of Saturday’s game - particularly given the significance a win could hold in the battle against relegation.

Chris Wood was one name linked with the Magpies over the weekend but, similarly to Tarkowski, Burnley are unwilling to sell to a relegation rival.

Chris Wood of Burnley celebrates after scoring their side’s third goal and his hat trick during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley at Molineux on April 25, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England.
Anthony Martial of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on December 2, 2021 in Manchester, England.

Sevilla and Barcelona have also been credited with an interest, with the former having already seen a loan approach knocked back.

And speaking this month, United boss Ralf Rangnick said that the club would have to ‘wait and see’ what approaches arrived for the Frenchman.

“He made it very clear that he wants to leave and, in a way, I can understand his wish to leave and to try to play more regularly somewhere else,” he said.

“But it’s a question not only of what he wants to do but a question of which kind of clubs are interested in him and do they meet the demands of the club, so we have to wait and see.”

With the door seemingly open for an exit, Martial is one name to follow with interest this week - and so too is Todd Cantwell.

The attacker was omitted from Norwich City’s squad for their FA Cup win over Charlton Athletic and has been heavily linked with an exit this month.

A number of Premier League clubs are said to be interested in the 23-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer - although the Canaries do hold an option to extend the contract.

With Norwich boss Dean Smith having already admitted that he is unsure whether the player will remain at Norwich, it’s a transfer story that could develop in the coming days.

Newcastle are monitoring the situation closely, so it’s certainly a story to keep an eye on.

While a move for a forward isn’t thought to be as advanced as Newcastle’s hunt for defensive recruits, things can quickly change - particularly in the January trading period.

And what about outgoings?

Eddie Howe has been clear that he is reluctant to lose players until seeing his own squad grow in numbers.

But that likely won’t stop speculation over several players who could move on this month.

Sean Longstaff has been linked with a reunion with Rafa Benitez at Everton, and he’s a player that will no doubt be attracting other interest as he enters the final six months of his current contract.

Dwight Gayle of Newcastle United arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on December 27, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Striker Dwight Gayle is another who could be on the move this month, and was absent from the squad for the defeat to Cambridge on Saturday.

But Gayle is unlikely to be allowed to depart before Newcastle strengthen, and that’s broadly going to be the case across the squad.

For now, the focus is heavily on incomings before Watford.