Newcastle have identified an Aston Villa star struggling to make an impression on Dean Smith as a perfect candidate to kick off their January spending spree, per a report.
All eyes will be on the Magpies once the winter window opens its doors. The club will have appointed a new sporting director and manager by then, and those two figures will be key in charting Newcastle’s early course under their new Saudi owners.
With the threat of relegation very real, Newcastle are expected to splash the cash in January.
Stars far and wide have thus far been linked across all areas of the pitch, though arguably their greatest need is at the back.
The likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson will trouble any Premier League defence, making defensive-minded additions a greater priority.
That is certainly the narrative pushed by online outlet Football Insider. They claim Newcastle have determined ‘strengthening central midfield is a priority’ in January.
As such, they have reportedly lined up Aston Villa enforcer Marvelous Nakamba as an ideal candidate.
The Zimbabwe international, 27, is firmly behind John McGinn and Douglas Luiz in Smith’s pecking order. The £14m arrival of Morgan Sanson two windows ago has thrust another barrier in Nakamba’s path to regular first-team football.
Nonetheless, his ‘energy and drive’ are exactly what Newcastle are seeking. Signing a combative midfielder capable of shielding their back-line will aid their defensive capabilities to no end.
The outlet claims a £15m fee will be required to prise Nakamba away from Aston Villa. If they did indeed sell at that price, it would represent around a £4m profit on their initial investment.
Villa’s stance on Nakamba’s future is unstated in the piece. Though given he has started just one league match this term, he is clearly not in Smith’s immediate thoughts.
Aston Villa issues have simple fix?
Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher suggested Aston Villa’s formation is a problem and may be hindering their stars from reaching their full potential.
Villa were soundly beaten by Arsenal on Friday night, conceding two goals in a first half in which they played a 3-5-2 formation. And speaking on Sky Sports, Carragher pointed to the system deployed to incorporate Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins as a pairing is hampering Villa overall.
“What the front two have done is make Dean Smith change his formation,” he said.
“For so long last season it was 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, and now they’re a back three team. That is a complete change. That is what happens when you bring in another quality striker like Danny Ings when you already have Watkins.
“Now, he [Dean Smith] has mentioned the goals that they’ve got but sometimes it’s not just about goals and how they affect the rest of the team and how they’re improving from last season.”