Newcastle United's owners are glad they were snubbed by Unai Emery as they now hope Eddie Howe can be "the next Alex Ferguson" at St James' Park.

Having sacked the unpopular Steve Bruce in October – one match after the club's takeover by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund – Newcastle identified Emery and Howe as leading candidates for their head coaching role.

Emery was approached first, only to back out, leaving Howe to take charge of a struggling team threatened with relegation.

Gradually, Howe has turned the tide on Tyneside, with Newcastle entering Saturday's match at Brentford on an unbeaten run that spans six league matches and more than two months. They are the only top-flight team without a single defeat since Christmas Day.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic, Newcastle director Mehrdad Ghodoussi said chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan wanted Howe "from day one".

And Al-Rumayyan's fellow board members are now convinced Howe was the right choice.

In the same interview with The Athletic, Amanda Staveley, Ghodoussi's wife and business partner, said: "It would have been wrong [to appoint Emery].

"We made the right decision with Eddie. He's come in, no airs or graces, no ego, and we're there to support him. I've really grown to care a great deal about him and his coaches.

"We talk to Eddie multiple times a day. I'm fascinated by what he does. He's so detailed, so hard working. You don't know when you're interviewing someone what they're going to be like but he's got huge integrity."

Howe is just 14 games into his Newcastle tenure, but Ghodoussi added: "I would love Eddie to be the next Alex Ferguson."

The Newcastle directors also discussed the January transfer window, claiming Sven Botman and Jesse Lingard each wanted to join the club. Botman could yet sign at the end of the season.

Kieran Trippier was one new arrival and had an instant impact, scoring two goals and being handed the captain's armband within four league appearances before sustaining a foot fracture.

Trippier has certainly impressed the Newcastle board, as Staveley said: "He's so professional, so fit. I've been so impressed.

"To be honest, Kieran isn't someone we'll ever sell. I've said to him, 'You're with us and that's it. You can be our Alan Shearer. You'll be a standard-bearer for Newcastle for many years to come'.

"If he can play, he will stay, and I believe you might find he'll still be playing in five years' time because he's capable of it. He's got something extraordinary."

Kieran Trippier considers Jan Oblak the best goalkeeper in the world and would love to see him in the Premier League – perhaps even at Newcastle United.

Oblak has long been regarded among the very best around in his position, although his form for Atletico Madrid has deteriorated this season.

Having won the LaLiga title alongside the 29-year-old in 2020-21, however, ex-Atletico defender Trippier still holds him in high regard.

"From my time playing with him, the amount of points he saved us and his shot-stopping, for me, he's the best in the world, for sure," Trippier told 5 Live, speaking ahead of Atletico's game against Manchester United on Wednesday.

Oblak joined Atletico from Benfica in 2014 and has remained in Madrid ever since, but Trippier added he was "really surprised" a Premier League club had not made a serious move for the keeper.

"I think he'd be unbelievable in the Premier League, but obviously it's who could he go to? That's the question," the Newcastle man said.

"I've had conversations with him before about the Premier League. He's always asked me questions. Of course, I'd love to see him in the Premier League one day."

Big-spending Newcastle were then put forward, with Trippier asked if he was acting as the club's LaLiga scout.

"You never know," he replied with a laugh. "You never know what could happen."

Atletico's 1-1 draw with United was their first Champions League match since Trippier's January departure, but the England international is keen to return to the competition with Newcastle.

"Right now, the most important thing is staying in the league. We need to focus about now," he said. "Of course, it's a process, it's about building season by season.

"Newcastle want to be playing Champions League football, but the most important thing for us is Saturday against Brentford and then building a game at a time and then see where we are at the end of the season.

"It's about building, it's a project. Of course I want to be playing Champions League football and hopefully I can be with Newcastle."

Kieran Trippier has no doubts about Joao Felix's quality after his "unbelievable" header for Atletico Madrid against Manchester United, but he suggested the forward still has work to do to meet Diego Simeone's exacting standards.

Joao Felix's superb diving header gave the Spanish champions the lead in their Champions League clash with the Red Devils, before substitute Anthony Elanga netted to leave the tie finely poised at 1-1 at the halfway point.

The opener represented Joao Felix's 24th goal for Atletico in all competitions but just his second headed goal for the club, with his only previous such effort coming against Cadiz back in November 2020.

Tripper, who left the Wanda Metropolitano for Newcastle United in January, was not surprised by his former team-mate's sublime goal, however.

"It was unbelievable. He can do so many things like that. He has the quality," Trippier told 5 Live.

"We need him to step up, we need him to be the difference. I was surprised they brought him off, because I think that changed the dynamic of the way Atletico Madrid were playing."

Eddie Howe is hopeful Kieran Trippier will play for Newcastle United again this season, but stated the right-back's injury is "significant".

Trippier was the first arrival under Howe and the new ownership at Newcastle last month, and has played a key role in helping the Magpies turn their form around.

Newcastle are out of the bottom three in the Premier League after three successive victories, beating Leeds United, Everton and Aston Villa respectively.

England international Trippier has scored in both of the last two matches, but he sustained a fracture in his left foot during the win over Villa.

Newcastle confirmed on Monday that the 31-year-old had fractured his fifth metatarsal bone, though no timescale was placed on his return.

Initial reports suggested that Trippier would need between eight and 10 weeks to fully recover.

On Friday, while previewing Newcastle's clash with West Ham, Howe confirmed Trippier's surgery had been a success.

"He had his operation yesterday and that went well, so that was good news," Howe told a news conference.

"We aim to have him back before the end of the season, but it's a significant injury which is a big blow for us."

Trippier's back-up, Javier Manquillo, suffered an ankle injury in the Villa match, and Howe confirmed the Spaniard would also be missing against West Ham on Saturday.

"Manquillo went off in the same game after landing awkwardly on his ankle following a header," Howe said. "We don't think that's serious, but he will miss the game. Apart from that, we're as we were."

A fellow new arrival in January was midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, though the Brazil international is yet to make his full debut for Newcastle, having instead had to settle for two substitute appearances.

"It's a really strong area, probably our strongest in terms of personnel," Howe said of Newcastle's midfield. "Every player would have an argument to say I deserve to start so long may that continue.

"Bruno will start a lot of games for us and will be a huge player. I don't think this period where he's watching and learning from the Premier League is a bad thing for him, although it will frustrate him because he wants to show his talent."

Due to gale-force winds hitting the United Kingdom from Storm Eunice, Newcastle will not be flying down to London, but instead they faced a seven-hour coach journey to the capital ahead of Saturday's early kick-off.

However, recent history is on their side. Newcastle have won their last two Premier League away games against West Ham, and have tasted victory on the road against the Hammers 10 times. They have not won more often on the road against any other side in the competition.

Newcastle United right-back Kieran Trippier is set for a spell on the sidelines after fracturing his foot.

Trippier was the first of five January arrivals in the first transfer window under the club's Saudi Arabia-backed ownership. Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Bruno Guimaraes and Chris Wood also signed for Eddie Howe's team.

The England international was forced off in the second half of the Magpies' 1-0 win over Aston Villa, having scored what turned out to be the winning goal from a free-kick in the 35th minute. 

It was Trippier's second Newcastle goal, after he netted in the 3-1 win over Everton on Tuesday. Howe's side have now won three Premier League matches in a row and are now fourth points clear of the bottom three.

Newcastle have since released a statement confirming that a scan conducted after full-time has revealed that Trippier has fractured a bone in his left foot.

However, no timescale has been placed on the 31-year-old's return.

"Trippier is set to be sidelined for the club's upcoming fixtures after fracturing a bone in his foot during Sunday's 1-0 victory over Aston Villa," the statement on Newcastle's official website read.

"The 31-year-old scored the game's only goal at St. James' Park to help the Magpies to a third successive Premier League win, but had to be substituted early in the second half after sustaining a foot injury.

"Trippier underwent an X-ray immediately after the game and scans have shown a fracture to the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot.

"Everyone at the club wishes Kieran a speedy recovery."

 

Liverpool responded to Manchester City's thrashing of Norwich by recording a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley.

Fabinho struck the only goal in the first half, as the Reds continued their fine set-piece record on a day when set-plays proved decisive across the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Raul Jimenez starred as Wolves leapfrogged Tottenham with a shock 2-0 win, and Newcastle continued their revival with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, thanks to Kieran Tripper's free-kick.

The final game of the day saw West Ham rescue a dramatic 2-2 draw at Leicester City, with Craig Dawson netting a stoppage-time equaliser.

Burnley 0-1 Liverpool: Reds reap rewards of set-piece focus

Liverpool did not produce a vintage performance, but Jurgen Klopp's men kept leaders Manchester City on their toes by earning a vital away win.

The Reds had to work hard for the three points against Burnley at Turf Moor. After managing 27 shots, nine attempts on target and 50 touches in Burnley's penalty area in the reverse fixture at Anfield last August, Liverpool had just over half as many touches in Burnley's 18-yard box this time (26), managing 12 shots in total and just four on target.

However, Klopp's men dug deep to find a winning goal, and did so courtesy of their fantastic set-piece record. Excluding penalties, 14 of Liverpool’s 61 Premier League goals this season have come via set-pieces, more than any other team and more than the tally they recorded in the top-flight last term (13).

Fabinho's winning goal also means he has scored more goals in his last seven matches (five) than he managed in his first 142 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions (four).

Meanwhile, the Anfield outfit also maintained their record of having won each of their games in which the Brazilian has netted for the club, with that run now reaching eight matches.

Tottenham 0-2 Wolves: Jimenez proves decisive at Spurs once again

It was Wolves, rather than Tottenham, who asserted their top-four credentials by recording a huge win in north London, with Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker firing the visitors to a 2-0 win.

Mexican striker Jimenez has now scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances away at Spurs (three goals), with Wolves winning each of those contests.

Indeed, Jimenez has now scored four times in six appearances against Tottenham, and has only scored more Premier League goals against Southampton and Everton (five).

For Antonio Conte's Spurs, the defeat was their third Premier League reverse in succession, and they also lost three consecutive league games under Nuno Espirito Santo in September 2021. This marks the first time they have had multiple three-match losing games in a Premier League campaign since 2004-05 (also two).

Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa: Another free-kick continues Toon revival

Newcastle's clash with Aston Villa was not exactly one for the purists, featuring the third-lowest expected goals tally of the entire Premier League season so far, but Tripper ensured that it was a memorable day for the Magpies.

Trippier's 35th-minute free-kick was enough to see off Steven Gerrard's men in a contest where both teams created just 0.5 xG apiece.

Remarkably, Newcastle have now scored a direct free-kick goal in each of their last three Premier League games (Jonjo Shelvey at Leeds, followed by Trippier against Everton and Aston Villa), becoming the first side to do so since Liverpool in December 2013.

In a game of fine margins, the England right-back showed the quality that he brings to the Magpies' relegation fight, and he is now the first Newcastle player to score direct free-kick goals in consecutive Premier League games since Hugo Viana did so in May 2003.

Kieran Trippier has confirmed he attracted "strong interest" from Manchester United last year before returning to the Premier League with Newcastle United.

Trippier swapped a LaLiga title defence with Atletico Madrid for a relegation battle with Newcastle this month, with the England full-back joining Eddie Howe's side for a reported fee of £12million.

The 31-year-old spent two-and-a-half seasons at Atleti after leaving Tottenham in 2019, helping Diego Simeone's side clinch a LaLiga title last year.

There were reports since early in 2021 that Trippier wished to return to England, and United were heavily linked.

Trippier has now confirmed that United and Atleti held discussions before the 2021-22 season, after England's run to the final of Euro 2020, but the potential move broke down over the Spanish club's demand that his release clause, reported at around £50m (€60m), was met.

"After the Euros, there was really strong interest," Trippier told Newcastle great Alan Shearer in an interview with The Athletic.

"I've got to be careful what I say because I don't want to get into trouble, but yeah, there was interest. We had conversations, but Atletico Madrid just wanted my release clause and it was a lot of money for a 30-year-old, so I understand why Man United didn't do that.

"There were other clubs interested too. Anyway, it's gone now, so it doesn't bother me."

Trippier hopes Simeone, who has established himself as one of world football's leading coaches during his decade-long stint at Atleti, follows him from LaLiga to the Premier League.

"I'd love to see him working in England. I know he was learning English about a year ago, and his partner speaks English," Trippier said.

"The thing about Simeone is that because he's so passionate when he's talking in the dressing room, I think it would get to him if he wasn't completely fluent. But I would love to see him in the Premier League. I think everyone would."

 

Simeone's pragmatic approach has sometimes come in for criticism, but there can be no doubting its success.

"It's a bit unfair, because Simeone has been so successful. He's won eight trophies," Trippier added, before referring to a comment Jurgen Klopp made about Atleti not playing "proper football" after Liverpool's defeat to Los Colchoneros in the 2019-20 Champions League knockout stage.

"I understand where Klopp is coming from, but if you're playing at Anfield you can't go toe-to-toe with [Liverpool] because you'll get punished.

"Everybody has their own system or set-up and Simeone's is different. It's worked for him."

Trippier's decision to leave Tottenham came after Mauricio Pochettino's side had reached the 2019 Champions League final, losing to Liverpool - ironically, at Atleti's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

The former Burnley defender enjoyed a fine 2018 World Cup, but felt his form dropped off slightly afterwards. However, he also hit out at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who he claims was engineering a sale while the season was ongoing.

"f you look back to the last few months of my Tottenham career, I admit that I wasn't at the levels that I was at the World Cup and there's no excuse," he said.

"After the Champions League final, it felt like the right time to move on.

"What annoyed me, I know 100 per cent for a fact – and this is what I was most angry about – that two months before the end of the season, Daniel was offering me to other clubs.

"I knew for certain that was happening, so I knew my time there must be up. I was playing for my team-mates and the supporters, but I also knew I wasn't wanted."

Newcastle United have completed the signing of Kieran Tripper from Atletico Madrid on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

The England international is the first arrival at St James' Park following the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover in October, joining for a fee reported to be in the region of £12million plus add-ons.

Tripper returns to the Premier League following a two-and-a-half-year stint with Atletico, having previously played for Tottenham and Burnley in the English top-flight.

The full-back will aim to bolster the Newcastle defence and help them climb out of the relegation zone, with the Magpies only winning one league game all season. They currently sit 19th, two points from safety.

The 31-year-old also links up with Eddie Howe for a second time, the pair having previously crossed paths at Turf Moor in 2012.

"I'm delighted to be joining this fantastic club. I really enjoyed my time in Madrid, but when I became aware of interest from Newcastle United, and having worked with Eddie Howe before, I knew this was where I wanted to be," Trippier told the club's official website.

"I'm aware there is a lot of work ahead of us but I know the demands of Premier League well and I know what an amazing club this is with very talented players. I can't wait to get started and I'm excited to step out at St. James' Park as a Newcastle player."

Trippier made 68 LaLiga appearances for Los Rojiblancos, helping Diego Simeone's side capture the domestic title last season.

The full-back contributed to the success with six assists; Jose Gaya (seven) the only defender to record more in the Spanish top-flight in 2020-21.

Trippier also registered 74 successful crosses during his time in LaLiga, with Jesus Navas (129) and Damian Suarez (84) the only defenders to better that tally.

Although he has failed to record any goals or assists across all competitions this season, there is no doubt in the quality and experience the England defender will bring to the Magpies' ranks.

Indeed, he played five of the Three Lions' seven matches as they reached the Euro 2020 final last year.

Howe said: "I am really pleased to welcome Kieran to Newcastle United. I have long admired his abilities and have followed his career, so when the opportunity arose to secure him, we didn't hesitate.

"A lot of hard work has gone into planning for the January transfer window long before the month began, which is clear in how quickly we have been able to complete this move."

Newcastle have also been linked with a move for another full-back, this time for the left flank, in the form of Everton defender Lucas Digne, who is out of favour with Rafael Benitez following a reported training-ground disagreement.

Digne, however, is reported to prefer a move elsewhere as it stands, with West Ham and Chelsea also said to be interested.

Diego Simeone is "grateful" for what Kieran Trippier has given to Atletico Madrid as the full-back closes in on a move to Newcastle United.

Trippier is reportedly undergoing a medical with Newcastle on Wednesday after an initial £12million (€14.36m) fee was agreed between the clubs.

The England international joined Atleti from Tottenham in July 2019 and has made 86 appearances for the Spanish side in all competitions.

Across his two and a half seasons in LaLiga, Trippier ranks joint-fourth for assists (10) and fourth for chances created (81) among defenders.

He played a key part in Atletico's title triumph last term and Simeone has wished the 31-year-old well at his next club.

"I always look at the positives," Simeone said at a news conference on Wednesday previewing Atletico's Copa del Rey round-of-32 tie with Rayo Majadahonda.

"I'm absolutely grateful for the time Kieran has been here with us. The club gave him 48 hours to resolve the situation. He's behaved very well and been very important for us."

 

Trippier started Sunday's 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano, though Marcos Llorente has also been regularly used at right-back this campaign.

However, Simeone confirmed Atletico will look to bring in a replacement for Trippier.

"We look ahead to what is next, and seek out alternatives," he said. "The club knows exactly what we need and are after. 

"We are always in common agreement, but if not then we will continue with the players we have."

Dusan Vlahovic looms as a major topic in this January transfer window.

The 21-year-old Serbia international has scored 18 goals this season for Fiorentina.

Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus have all been linked with Vlahovic, along with Arsenal and Tottenham.

TOP STORY - GUNNERS LODGE VLAHOVIC BID

Arsenal have lodged a €70million (£58.3m) bid for Fiorentina's Serbian forward Dusan Vlahovic,  according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

As part of the proposed deal, Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira would join La Viola on a permanent deal.

Arsenal, who were seen as a long shot to secure Vlahovic's services, are keen to sign a new forward, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang falling out of favour.

 

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal are willing to listen to offers for outcast forward Aubameyang in January, claims Sky Sports. Aubameyang lost the Gunners' captaincy last month and has been dropped from the side. Newcastle United have been linked with the Gabon international.

- Goal reports that Aston Villa, Everton and Liverpool are all keen on bringing in Philippe Coutinho during the January transfer window as Barcelona shop him around. Coutinho is not keen on a return to Brazil and fancies playing in England again.

- Atletico Madrid full-back Kieran Trippier has agreed personal terms with Newcastle with a medical to complete before a deal is confirmed, reports Fabrizio Romano.

- Real Madrid have thrown in the towel in their pursuit of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger due to his wage demands, claims Marca.

- Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham are all circling for Everton's full-back Lucas Digne,  according to Sky Sports. Digne is valued at £30m.

Diego Simeone insisted Kieran Trippier is an important player to Atletico Madrid but suggested the right-back may leave the club amid talk of a move to Newcastle.

Eddie Howe's side head into their first transfer window following the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover in October, with Newcastle reportedly submitting a formal bid to make Trippier the first signing of their new era.

The experienced Trippier has repeatedly been linked with a mid-season switch to Newcastle, having impressed during his stint in the Spanish capital, and has also previously been suggested as a target of Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton.

Trippier, who joined the reigning LaLiga champions from Tottenham in July 2019, has managed 67 top-flight appearances for Atletico, while Howe has previously managed the 31-year-old when the pair crossed paths at Burnley in 2012.

Atletico head coach Simeone addressed the transfer speculation on Saturday as he expressed his admiration for Trippier, though he conceded that managers cannot influence players' decisions to leave.

"Kieran Trippier has to decide whether he is leaving or not," Simeone told reporters on New Year's Day at his news conference.

"We will move on following his decision. We have always had these situations where very good players have the possibility of leaving.

"It will depend on what the player wants. We will then look for solutions. We coaches can't do too much in terms of players' decisions. We can only tell Trippier how important he is for the team."

Trippier has hardly excelled for his current team this campaign, failing to register a goal or an assist in 17 games across all competitions, but his previous displays for Tottenham highlight the quality Newcastle would be acquiring.

He created 49 chances in 27 Premier League games in 2018-19, the third-highest for defenders behind only Lucas Digne (71) and Andy Robertson (51), while playing eight and nine games fewer than the respective full-backs.

His addition would offer Howe an attacking outlet and the former Bournemouth manager will also hope the full-back can firm up Newcastle's defence, which conceded 80 league goals in 2021 – the most shipped by any Premier League team in a calendar year.

Howe's side are currently 19th, having won only once in their opening 19 league matches and collected just 11 points.

The January transfer window is officially open for business, with most eyes pointing in the direction of Newcastle United following their takeover by a Saudi consortium earlier this season.

The long-awaited transaction was approved by the Premier League in October after it received "legally binding assurances" that the club would not be controlled by the Saudi Arabian government.

The takeover saw the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) take an 80 per cent stake in the club, ending Mike Ashley's 14-year ownership.

Replacing Steve Bruce with Eddie Howe in the dugout was the first move by the new owners, but the apparent richest club in the world are expected to really flex their muscles in the transfer market over the next few years, likely beginning this month.

Head coach Howe has already indicated he intends to dip into the significant amounts of cash available in an attempt to keep the Magpies in the Premier League, and Stats Perform has taken a look at where that money might be best spent.

Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)

In theory, the smartest thing for Newcastle to do would be to build for the future, so it may seem counter-intuitive to start by suggesting a 35-year-old, but the fact is they need results right now.

When trying to build stability, it almost always starts in goal where you must have a reliable figure to save the day when needed, but most importantly, to build confidence and reassurance through the spine of a team.

With all due respect to Karl Darlow and Martin Dubravka, Newcastle can do better, and with the position of the experienced Navas currently under threat in Paris thanks to the arrival of Gianluigi Donnarumma at the start of the season, this could be an opportunity to bring in a genuinely world-class option right now.

The Costa Rican was a near ever-present at PSG last season, making 45 appearances in all competitions, and boasted the best save percentage in Europe's top five leagues of goalkeepers who played at least 15 games (79.55).

Navas has still played 11 league games this season while Donnarumma is eased in, with his save percentage only slightly declining (77.27), and still comfortably ahead of Darlow (60.53) and Dubravka (58.33).

The former Real Madrid stopper would bring experience of succeeding at the top level, having won three Champions Leagues at the Santiago Bernabeu, and might consider it one last hurrah to be a regular at an ambitious Premier League project rather than staying put to watch from the bench at the Parc des Princes.

If Howe wants someone a bit younger, he could look at Sevilla's Yassine 'Bono' Bounou, who was second to Navas in save percentage last season (76.62) and has improved on that so far this campaign (78.26), with a significantly higher number of catches as well (18 to Navas' two), which suggests he might be more suited to the Premier League where crosses are more prevalent.

However, it is unlikely that Sevilla – who have the best defensive record in LaLiga this season – would countenance a move in January, and Bounou will be on Africa Cup of Nations duty for most of the next month with Morocco anyway, so would probably be one to revisit in the summer.

Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Slightly easier to predict this one, as the former Tottenham right-back has been heavily linked with a move to St James' Park in recent weeks.

Trippier is seen as an upgrade on Javier Manquillo, which on the face of it, might not be such an obvious assumption based on this season.

The England international is yet to register a goal or assist in 14 games in all competitions, while Manquillo has one goal and two assists in 12 games, although Trippier has created seven chances to Manquillo's four.

Trippier has a slightly superior pass completion percentage in the opposition half (72.89 to 68.18) but the Spaniard has the edge on duel success percentage (63.73 to 58.16) and dribble success rate (53.33 to 46.15).

Although Trippier may not have excelled in this campaign yet, his prior record in England counts in his favour, particularly his last season at Tottenham.

In 2018-19, he created 49 chances in 27 Premier League games, the third highest for defenders behind only Lucas Digne (71) and Andy Robertson (51), having played eight and nine games fewer than both respectively, and more than Trent Alexander-Arnold (48) having played two games fewer.

If Trippier can rediscover that creativity, he could give Howe an extra dimension, including the possibility to utilise wing-backs, where he has played on occasion for his country.

Sven Botman (Lille)

The Dutch centre-back was being linked with some of Europe's top clubs at the end of last season after winning Ligue 1 with Lille, but ultimately stayed at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

However, he has been a name closely mentioned with Newcastle in recent weeks, with rumours of a £30million price being placed on his head, but how does the 21-year-old compare to the Magpies' current options?

This season, Botman has a better duel success rate (68.49) than each of Jamaal Lascelles (64.13), Federico Fernandez (62.50) and Fabian Schar (45.90), as well as more successful long passes (50) than all three, which could provide the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron with more immediate service.

He has also conceded only five fouls, compared to 11 each from Lascelles and Schar, which should mean fewer dangerous set-pieces around the box to defend.

Botman would be someone who could come in and make an immediate impact given his experience at Lille, but would also be one for the future, and someone that Howe could potentially build his backline around for years to come.

Boubacar Kamara (Marseille)

Like most other players with a pulse, Kamara has been regularly linked with a move to the Premier League, with his current contract at the Stade Velodrome expiring at the end of the season.

Kamara is primarily a defensive midfielder and could be another option for Howe to shore up what is currently a rather jellified spine at Newcastle.

The 22-year-old compares favourably to Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey in most metrics, having scored the same number of goals (one), while creating more open-play chances than both (10), having a better duel success rate (55.56), and making more interceptions (16) and more recoveries (63).

Like Botman, Kamara is a player who could come in and be an immediate improvement, while also being someone for the long term.

Some Newcastle fans might think that a creative midfielder would be a better investment at this stage, in which case you could look at the likes of out-of-favour duo Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) or Todd Cantwell (Norwich City), or even outside shouts like Ligue 1 pair Benjamin Bourigeaud (Rennes) or Teji Savanier (Montpellier).

Having plenty of steel in the midfield seems more important for Howe when trying to develop teams though, as seen when he spent the vast majority of his budget at Bournemouth on signing Jefferson Lerma from Levante in 2018.

Ben Brereton Diaz (Blackburn Rovers)

Although starting to rebuild Newcastle should definitely start with Howe putting in a strong base, one area he simply has to address in January is up top, especially with Callum Wilson facing a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Only Wilson (six) and Saint-Maximin (four) have scored more than once in the league for Newcastle this season, and Howe needs someone else to call upon who can find the net on a regular basis, which is something Brereton Diaz has been doing, especially after deciding to become Chilean.

The 22-year-old has been in ruthless form for Blackburn this season, bagging 20 goals in 24 Championship games for Tony Mowbray's side, putting him second only to former Newcastle forward Aleksandar Mitrovic (22 goals for Fulham).

It is a remarkable improvement for the Stoke-born striker, who only managed 17 goals in 133 Championship appearances prior to this season but has exploded since becoming a Chile international, even representing the country of his mother's birth at last year's Copa America.

He is a player who looks ready for the next level, while also potentially being in a position where he will be happy to rotate with Wilson once he returns.

Plus, Newcastle have had decent success in buying strikers from Blackburn in the past.

The important thing for Newcastle is to not run before they can walk. There has been a noticeable improvement in performances if not results since Howe arrived, but getting from where they are to where they want to be is certainly not going to happen overnight.

Using their newfound wealth to build slowly and sensibly should ensure that whatever happens down the line, they can at least put the foundations in for sustained success rather than going for the biggest and flashiest names right away.

Staying in the Premier League is the primary goal for the remainder of this season, then at the end of the campaign they can perhaps look to progress to the next level.

Then again, if they can sign Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe then frankly, have at it lads.

Matthijs de Ligt's future at Juventus is unclear following comments from his agent Mino Raiola.

The Netherlands international has been with the Bianconeri since July 2019 but could be set to move on.

Juventus are off the pace in the Serie A title race this season and Raiola said his client was "ready for a new step".

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONSIDER DE LIGT MOVE

Barcelona are considering making a move for Juventus defender De Ligt, reports Gerard Romero.

The Blaugrana would need to offload the salaries of Samuel Umtiti and Philippe Coutinho to enable the transfer.

De Ligt has been linked with a switch away from Juventus, with Chelsea also interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham and Manchester United will rival Newcastle United in pursuit of Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, claims 90min. Trippier is keen to return to England after two and a half years in Spain.

- Real Madrid are interested in Lille forward Jonathan David at the end of this season, claims Marca. Arsenal and West Ham are also monitoring the Canadian.

- Gerard Romero is reporting that Bayern Munich are considering a move for Barcelona's USA international full-back Sergino Dest.

- ESPN claims Arsenal are ready to listen to offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he was stripped of the Gunners captaincy last week.

Kieran Trippier has long been linked with a move back to England.

The 31-year-old full back has plied his trade in Spain for the past two-and-a-half years.

Trippier spent time with Manchester City, Burnley and Tottenham before joining Atletico Madrid, but seems set for a Premier League return next month.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO TO PERMIT TRIPPIER MOVE

Atleti are set to allow England international Trippier to join Newcastle United in January according to the Daily Mail.

The report claims that Atleti are hoping for £15million (€18m) from cashed-up Newcastle, who need reinforcements in their bid to avoid relegation.

Atleti will let the deal progress if they can find a suitable replacement for the defender during January.

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport claims Juventus will switch their attention to signing an attacking player in January to boost their Champions League qualification hopes, with Manchester United pair Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial, Paris Saint-Germain's Mauro Icardi and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in their sights.

- AS reports that Eden Hazard does not want to leave Real Madrid in the January transfer window, despite struggling for impact with Los Blancos.

Chelsea are set to make a move for Wolverhampton's Ruben Neves according to TodoFichajes. Thomas Tuchel wants to reinforce the midfield with Saul Niguez having underwhelmed since joining in August.

Real Madrid are plotting a move to sign Internazionale's Netherlands international Denzel Dumfries reports Defensa Central.

- Veteran Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho is set to extend his stay with Manchester City, scuppering interest from Atletico Mineiro, reports Sport Witness.

The race for Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is on.

Haaland is reportedly being chased by several top clubs, including Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Each club will be looking for an edge in the race for the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – BARCELONA NOT KEEN ON POGBA-HAALAND PACKAGE

Barcelona are unlikely to bring in both Haaland and Paul Pogba, reports SPORT.

Agent Mino Raiola, who represents both players, is reported to have recently met with Barca president Joan Laporta.

Young striker Haaland is unmistakably an appealing player to Barcelona, but they would need to find the funds to buy him from Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona, who have major financial issues, are said to be wary of taking on Manchester United star Pogba's wages, and he may not be an ideal technical fit for coach Xavi. Pogba's United contract is due to expire at the end of this season.

Manchester City are also readying themselves to chase Haaland but will not over-spend, reports the Manchester Evening News.

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United are bullish about their prospects of signing Atletico Madrid's England defender Kieran Trippier in January, according to Football Insider. Talks between the Magpies and Trippier are reportedly already under way.

- Premier League trio Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United could be all set to make a move to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic after he rejected a bumper extension offer, reports Talksport.

- Paris Saint-Germain have joined the queue of clubs hoping to sign out-of-favour Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo, reports Calciomercato. Arthur has also been linked with Lazio.

- Fenerbahce are set to swoop for Luuk de Jong, who is on loan at Barcelona from Sevilla, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barca are eager to let him leave from his loan.

- Barcelona have set an asking price of €90million (£77m) for Frenkie de Jong according to Fichajes, amid interest from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

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