Newcastle United fans go into transfer deadline day hoping to, at last, see some activity from the club in January.
Despite Rafa Benitez’s undoubted pulling power, the Magpies are yet to strengthen in this window and face a tough task to make acquisitions before time runs out.
— NinetyMinutesOnline (@90MinsOnline) January 30, 2017
Newcastle have been continuously linked with fan favourite Andros Townsend over the course of the month, with the latest news stating the club are haggling with Crystal Palace over a potential loan fee.
Yet, particularly with Sammy Ameobi recalled to the club, the wide areas seem to be a position of strength on Tyneside these days and perhaps Benitez should focus his efforts on the central midfield position.
Tom Cairney of Fulham is the player that the former Real Madrid manager should be targeting.
The 26-year-old midfielder is at the epicentre of a Cottagers side that is playing some of the best football on offer in the Championship this year.
Cairney can operate in the number 10 role, as a deeper playmaker or on the wing; such versatility would only come as a plus for Benitez as he looks to guide the Toon Army back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Most importantly, the former Blackburn Rovers man is always looking to get his team going on the front foot.
When Newcastle lost Jonjo Shelvey to suspension, the need for a back-up playmaker was glaringly obvious.
The team lost its rhythm, with midfield replacement Jack Colback seemingly unable to make a forward pass of any real significance.
It is no surprise then that the absence of England international Shelvey coincided with the Magpies’ worst run of form this season, a dire stretch that would see Brighton and Hove Albion replace the North East outfit at the peak of the Championship table.
The matter is simple; Newcastle do not have another player like the former Swansea City man.
To suggest Cairney would be happy coming to Tyneside in a back-up role would be foolish, though.
The player is idolised at Craven Cottage, so much so that Fulham turned down an approach from Premier League side Middlesbrough for their captain and deemed him not for sale under any circumstances.
Every player has his price, though, and with the Magpies reportedly offering £16 million for James McCarthy in this window, there seems to be money there for Benitez to spend over the next 24 hours.
Should he allocate those resources to Cairney, the Newcastle faithful would be getting an experienced Championship player of real quality who could no doubt cut it in the Premier League.
And at 26 years old, that is exactly where the midfielder will want to be.