Eddie Howe acknowledges the thought of spending Newcastle United’s riches in January is “exciting” but his immediate focus is on getting the best out of the club’s existing playing squad.
Newcastle were taken over last month by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which became the richest football club owner in the world.
New director Amanda Staveley has spoken of targeting a Premier League title win in the next five to 10 years, with heavy investment expected to transform the team.
A host of high-profile players have been linked, including Barcelona trio Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
But Newcastle have nine Premier League fixtures to negotiate before the transfer window opens at the start of 2022 and sit five points adrift of safety in 19th place.
Howe was appointed as head coach this week but takes charge of a team winless in 11 this term, Newcastle’s worst start to a league season in their history.
The four most recent examples of teams going 11 or more without a win in the Premier League ended in relegation, meaning Howe cannot afford to wait for new signings.
“That is exciting, but it’s potentially far away for us,” Howe told Sky Sports.
“January windows? I’m not sure, they’re very unpredictable. Even to plan now is sometimes foolish, because things change at other clubs very, very quickly; players that may be available suddenly aren’t available.
Getting stuck in.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 9, 2021
“We can’t put our eggs in that basket, for me. If we don’t get the players who are currently at this football club performing as well as they can do, it’s not going to work.
“At the moment, I’m not looking at the January transfer window. All the speculation regarding players, which I’ve seen, is not relevant to us at this time.
“I can assure everybody my focus has been on the players we do have and will remain on the players we do have, because they’re the ones that will ultimately be trying to get results for us between then and now.”
One of the current Newcastle players of immediate interest to Howe is Allan Saint-Maximin, the team’s talismanic winger who enjoyed a close relationship with previous coach Steve Bruce.
After two goals and three assists in his first six league games this season, Saint-Maximin is without a goal involvement in five matches – including four since the takeover was completed and three since Bruce was sacked.
Howe knows all about the player’s ability, though. As Bournemouth manager, he provided the opposition for the only game in Saint-Maximin’s career in which he has supplied three assists, back in July 2020 in a 4-1 Newcastle win.
“I’m really, really pleased to be working with Maxi,” Howe said. “I think he’s a very, very unique talent. He’s a game-winner, a real difference-maker for us.
“First of all, we have to find a way to function as a team to get the best out of him. But he has to also contribute to the team – the two things go hand in hand.
“I’m really excited to try to figure out ways to play to his best levels, and his response in the two days [of training] has been excellent.”
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