Rafa wants to move quickly with transfers
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is aiming to put the Magpies into the position of maximum opportunity in the January transfer window.
The Toon boss is determined to strike early and wants to get at least two signings on board within the first fortnight of 2019.
Benitez was left frustrated in the last winter window as the Magpies made a slow start to business, signing Kenedy in the third week of the month and Martin Dubravka and Islam Slimani on deadline day.
And while the season turned out well – with Kenedy and Dubravka proving to be successes – Benitez felt United took a risk.
Benitez has made the signings of full-back cover and a new winger a priority – but there is growing confidence that a striker could also be added to that list.
United’s Academy are also understood to have a new signing lined up to add to the club’s youth ranks.
Benitez is close to submitting his final shortlist for January with Toon scouts set to carry out final checks on some targets over the next week or so.
Newcastle’s pursuit of Atlanta United star Miguel Almiron is still very real at this stage and Benitez wants to see the club get in the box seat for his signature ahead of West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The club’s hierarchy have been told in great detail about the exact package it would take to sign Almiron - and if talks between Atlanta and head of recruitment Steve Nickson go well he could even arrive in the North-East in late December.
However, one fear behind the scenes is whether Mike Ashley will be prepared to break the transfer record to sign the £25million-rated player.
Benitez has been left frustrated before by the club’s reluctance to splash out a big fee on a single player with the preference from the United’s top brass to sign a clutch of players with available funds.
Ashley has indicated that funds are in the bank for new players in January but how much he will stretch to remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain is that Benitez has done everything he can to ensure Newcastle get the players they need in the new year.
His scouts have been taking in up to three games a day over recent weekends with an incredible amount of air miles and research put in by Toon talent spotters.