Eddie Howe has opened up on the challenges facing Newcastle United in the January transfer window.
It’s been a positive start to the month with the arrivals of Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood from Atletico Madrid and Burnley, respectively, for a combined fee of £37million.
The Magpies certainly don’t want to stop there however, as they swiftly turn their attention to acquiring signing number three.
NewcastleWorld understands a central defender is top of the club’s transfer list, with Lille defender Sven Botman their most wanted recruit.
So far, United have been frustrated in their efforts to land the Netherlands under-21s international, perhaps an example of the difficulties Howe & Co are encountering in the winter market.
Howe hinted at inflated price-tags less than 24 hours after it was suggested Newcastle may need to pay around £45m to land Botman by the Daily Telegraph.
With that in mind, Howe insisted the club is not afraid to walk away from potential transfers, if the price isn’t right.
‘January drives prices up to a very uncomfortable level’
The Toon head coach said: “Forget the fact we have the name and the wealth people think we have, it’s the window that drives prices up to a very uncomfortable level for everybody.
“Everyone’s well aware that we’re in the market for certain positions and then that demand just drives the price up. There’s nothing we can do about that. This window continues to surprise everybody I think, but you just need to live in that world.
“We needed players that we’ve identified and managed to get over the line. The cost of those players, I’m sure, is uncomfortable for everybody – that’s not talking about the individual cases, that’s just the price of football players in general. But that’s the market we’re in.
“But you have to be in a position where you’re willing to walk away. You have to draw a line in certain situations, and say, ‘No, we’re not going to pay that money’. Otherwise, where does the game go? It goes to an uncomfortable place, I think.
“It’s all about the individual player, and judging each situation on individual merits. That’s what we’ve tried to do.”
‘A very complex situation’
Much has been made about United’s desire to strengthen the playing squad this month in order to fend off Premier League relegation.
Having the ability to sign players is a unique position for Howe and a potential advantage over relegation rivals.
But it isn’t that simple, of course, as Howe spoke further of the obstacles facing Newcastle.
Howe added: “It is a very unique position but what you have to understand is that while people on the outside think it is quite an easy situation to be in, it is not. It is a very complex situation.
“You have to agree deals with clubs that do not want to sell in January, where we are now in world football, clubs are very reluctant to lose assets at this time of year.
“The players have to want to join your battle in the fight to stay in the league and when they are at the top of their profession, that is not an easy sell.
“Newcastle does have a huge pull in many different ways but I believe that our league position is not one of them so it is a very delicate mix.
“For me, the most important thing is to bring in the right characters into the group. Character and attitude in the player that they want to play and fight for Newcastle United now and in the future.”