New year, new Rumour Mill, new Newcastle. At least, that’s the plan, with their new ownership having waited three long months to splash the cash on their plaything.
Among the first to come in looks likely to be Kieran Trippier, scorer of a World Cup semi-final goal for England and a La Liga winner with Atlético Madrid last season. What might attract him to a move to the north east? The word is a previous working relationship with Eddie Howe from their time together at Burnley.
Who else might come in? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, unloved at Arsenal but heading to the Africa Cup of Nations with Gabon, looks like a two-plus-two-equalling-five equation. Odion Ighalo, who plays his football in Saudi Arabia with Al Shabab, and must be gettable, is also at the Afcon with Nigeria. Which may leave Darwin Núñez of Benfica, though he may cost a premium of £50m and, as one of the hottest properties in the game, may need to be offered serious cash to fight out a relegation battle.
Luis Díaz, Porto’s Colombian flier, is another player linked with Newcastle though Liverpool are also a possible destination should they wish to refresh their squad in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané at that soccer jamboree in Cameroon. And another possible Newcastle target – let’s face it, most of the footballing world is a target at this point – is Gabriel Barbosa of Flamengo: aka Gabigol.
How about a defender? Sven Botman of Lille, the Dutch international, a Ligue 1 winner last season will cost £30m from a club willing to sell the 21-year-old, as they are short of cash. But is Botman willing to join? How about a midfielder? An emotional return for Georginio Wijnaldum, on big money but not playing much for Paris Saint-Germain? Seems unlikely, but all bets are off in the magical world of the January market. Meanwhile it is said that PSG would like to sign Chelsea-owned Crystal Palace tyro Conor Gallagher to play in midfield.
Other clubs are available, and there is talk of a swap deal – like they ever come off – between Manchester United and Barcelona for Ousmane Dembélé and Anthony Martial. United’s long-term target is Declan Rice, but good luck in getting West Ham to sell in January.
The Hammers, though, may be willing to spend some of the summer’s probable Rice cash – he is also wanted by Chelsea and Manchester City – on Rumour Mill favourite Adama Traoré, who also interests Tottenham. Any other Spurs business? Yes, the wild suggestion in Italy that unhappy Romelu Lukaku might want to join up with Antonio Conte to put an end to his Chelsea “nightmare”.
With Manchester City running away with the Premier League and most of the big clubs keeping their powder dry before the summer, it may be a quiet market beyond Real Madrid’s continued interest in Kylian Mbappé. And that probably means this column should be thankful for Newcastle having money to burn.