NEWCASTLE UNITED are pondering a move for French midfielder Gueida Fofana, but there is a reluctance to make major investments this month with the club sitting in the top half of the Premier League.
The ploy worked as the Magpies hauled themselves clear of danger in the second half of the season, but with the league table making rather better viewing this time around, there is much greater reticence about entering the January market again.
Ashley, Joe Kinnear and Alan Pardew met to discuss transfer business this week, with Graham Carr and Lee Charnley also having an input into the talks, and a number of issues were debated.
On the one hand, there is an acceptance that with overseas players needing time to acclimatise to the Premier League, there is an argument for signing them in January in order to ensure they are up to speed for the start of the following season.
However, with January signings often coming at a premium because most clubs are reluctant sellers halfway through a campaign, Ashley is not believed to be keen to make major additions in the turn-of-year window unless the situation demands it.
With relegation seemingly not an issue this season, it would therefore be a surprise if the Magpies owner was to sanction a significant cash outlay this month.
If he does, it will almost certainly be because he feels he is securing a bargain from overseas, and Fofana could yet fall into that category if Lyon were to reduce their valuation of the 22-year-old.
Primarily a defensive midfielder, but also capable of playing in a number of other roles, Carr’s scouting team have watched Fofana on a number of occasions this season, with sources claiming they have been impressed by what they have seen.
The physically-imposing youngster started his career with Le Havre before joining Lyon in 2011, and has won two caps for France’s under-21 team. He has also been linked with Marseille and Stuttgart, and Newcastle are aware of his refusal to sign a new deal with Lyon despite the Ligue 1 club attempting to initiate talks towards the end of last year.
Newcastle, who have also been watching Sochaux striker Cedric Bakambu and Werder Bremen midfielder Aaron Hunt, harbour a long-standing interest in unsettled West Brom striker Shane Long, although a move for the Irishman is again unlikely this month.
Hull are close to completing a £5m deal for Long, and while Pardew has long been an admirer of the 26-year-old, it would be a major surprise if the Magpies were to attempt to gazump their Premier League rivals.
Meanwhile, Newcastle youngster Conor Newton has extended his loan deal with Scottish Premier League side St Mirren until the end of the season. The 22-year-old midfielder has made 22 appearances for the Buddies this term, scoring three goals.