With Newcastle’s Premier League status once again hanging in the balance, business in the January transfer window is vital to their survival.
However, Rafa Benitez has seen the purse strings tightened in his previous winter windows, and there’s fears he’ll face the same situation in 2019.
It’s a major issue for the club and if they don’t strengthen their squad this month, they may face the repercussions.
But the Toon’s lack of spending also creates another issue.
While Newcastle may be keeping their business to a minimum, certain teams below them will be relishing the transfer window.
Two of the bottom three have already re-shaped themselves with new managers, but they may well be strengthening elsewhere in the new year.
Who are the fellow relegation contenders looking to bring in, and which of those deals would massively impact Newcastle?
Who will spend?
For all the money they spent in the summer, Fulham still sit in a lowly 19th place in the league table.
The signings of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Andre Schurrle and Jean Michael Seri bolstered their attack, but their defence remained weak.
New manager Claudio Ranieri has steadied the ship somewhat since arriving, but wins are still hard to come by.
The Italian manager is desperate for reinforcements, particularly another striker and central defender.
According to the Evening Standard, Ranieri has his eye on Chelsea outcast Gary Cahill. The ex-England international would bring leadership and experience to the back line, hopefully improving their awful goal difference. The Cottagers have conceded 47 goals this season, the worst rate in the league.
Bristol Post have even suggested they could be eyeing Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden to also tighten up their midfield.
But it’s up top where things need to change as despite a strong start to the season, Fulham’s goals are drying up.
The Evening Standard claim Ranieri is looking at ex-Newcastle loanee Islam Slimani, who made little impact at St James’ Park.
It’s going to take a lot more than these signings to stop the rot at Fulham.
Ranieri already looks to have improved the team’s defensive structure, having kept two clean sheets in their last five games. Gary Cahill would certainly be a brilliant acquisition, but he’s not what’s really needed.
Their 19 goals this season means they can only boast a better league tally than Huddersfield and Newcastle. If they’re going to pick up wins, they need more than Mitrovic providing fire power.
Slimani, however, is not the solution to this problem, and based on these potential signings, Fulham will continue to struggle in the new year.
Perhaps surprisingly, Cardiff are one of the few relegation threatened teams looking to do business in January.
Neil Warnock’s side have shocked people in recent weeks, with wins against Leicester and Southampton in their last six matches.
Having previously looked like a bottom three certainty for the rest of the season, they now sit in 17th place, with the same points as 15th placed Newcastle.
Warnock is looking to continue the climb and the Welsh side have been linked with several exciting players in January.
They’ve been linked with Nantes striker Emiliano Sala by Wales Online and the forward would be a phenomenal signing. Neil Warnock revealed to Sky Sports a deal had been reached at £15 million, but Nantes have since upped the asking fee. The transfer is now in doubt, but there’s still time for Cardiff to sign more attacking options.
Wales Online have reported that the Welsh side are also looking at Matt Phillips of West Brom. The winger has five goals and six assists in the Championship this season and could add creativity to Cardiff.
Newcastle must be wary of Cardiff, who are steadily gaining traction in the league.
Warnock’s willingness to invest in January is even more of a worry, as he’s over achieved with his current squad.
While Sala’s signing may be in doubt, the signing of any striker with some top tier experience would boost the team. The Welsh side have played utility man Callum Paterson up front for most of the season and need quality strikers.
There’ll be plenty of cheaper Championship strikers looking to make the step up, and Warnock will have his eye out for them.
Matt Phillips would also be a good signing given his past Premier League experience. The winger hit a season tally of eight assists twice (2016/2017 and 2014/2015) in his four PL seasons.
With a bit of creativity and firepower in January, Cardiff may become a surprise force.