The Toon Tribune: Why Newcastle’s striker search will go to the wire

With just over a day left until the January transfer window closes, Newcastle United face a race against time to acquire a lethal striker in order to boost their survival hopes.

A striker was made priority by manager Rafa Benitez, however United have been unsuccessful in their attempts to recruit one so far.

The Magpies’ top target was Denmark international Nicolai Jorgensen. According to HITC, they subsequently had two bids turned down for the Feyenoord striker, with the latest bid being £15m. The Rotterdam club want a fee closer to £20m however, while Newcastle are now exploring other targets; although the Jorgensen deal is not dead just yet.

At the start of the window, United’s list of centre-forwards included Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Islam Slimani and Diafra Sakho.

A loan enquiry for Liverpool forward Sturridge was submitted yesterday, with the Englishman open to a move to the North-East and in turn, opening talks with Benitez.

Matters were progressing smoothly until a rival Premier League club entered the race – West Bromwich Albion. For any other player, the decision would be a simple one, with the prospect of playing in front of over 50,000 fans every other week and being worshipped by the Geordie nation more appealing than playing at the Hawthorns.

However since Sturridge hails from the West Midlands, this proved to be the main factor in his decision as he opted to join the Baggies. Sadly, the forward used family reasons rather than pure footballing reasons to sway his decision; a somewhat unprofessional move from a man fighting for a place in England’s World Cup squad, having featured only once for his country in 2017.

One deal Benitez thought would be unproblematic was a loan move for Sturridge’s teammate Danny Ings. Ings has struggled for game time since arriving at Anfield in 2015, featuring only 15 times in all competitions, while he has also been hampered by injuries.

A request was made fairly early on in the window, however Rafa was prepared to wait, given that Ings intended to see how his situation stood towards the end; the Englishman’s preference was to remain at Liverpool and fight for his place in the team. As a result of Sturridge’s move to West Brom, it now seems unlikely that Ings will move to Tyneside, given that Liverpool have already lost an attacker.

With a double blow received from Merseyside, Newcastle then shifted their attention to Leicester City forward Islam Slimani. The Algerian became the Foxes’ record signing in 2016, arriving for £28m however did not reach Leicester’s high expectations and is now available for a loan move away.

After missing out on Sturridge and Ings, United moved swiftly to secure Slimani’s services. Again however, the Magpies were greeted with the apologetic news that Leicester would not allow their player to move to a Premier League rival and would only be open for a move abroad.

With the other attacker on United’s wish list – Diafra Sakho – signing for French club Rennes, Newcastle now seem to be in a stage of desperation. In his pre-Burnley press conference, Benitez maintained that he was still hopeful that business could be completed before the deadline.

However, this scenario has occurred to Magpies’ fans many occasions during previous transfer windows; most notably the last two under Benitez. If nothing materialises before the window closes it is only natural that Rafa may consider his future under this current, tight-fisted regime.

With time passing swiftly, the Toon Army will hope that Rafa’s enthusiasm and persistence will result in a new striker arriving at St James’ Park.


Written by Dawud Arshad

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