EDDIE HOWE admits clubs are hiking up their prices when Newcastle United come calling this month – and says the Magpies have to be prepared to walk away from transfer deals they feel are not right.

Newcastle have spent a combined sum of around £37m on Chris Wood and Kieran Trippier this month, with both players set to start tomorrow afternoon’s crucial relegation clash with Watford.

However, despite intensive negotiations on a number of fronts, the club’s recruitment team have been unable to land a new centre-half in the first two weeks of the transfer window.

Multiple bids have been submitted for Sven Botman and Diego Carlos, but Lille are demanding at least £45m for the former and Sevilla are understood to be asking for €40m for the latter, valuations the Newcastle hierarchy feel are unrealistic.

Talks remain ongoing on both fronts, but Howe admits there will come a point where Newcastle have to draw a line under things and look elsewhere.

“Everyone’s well aware that we’re in the market for certain positions,” said the Magpies head coach. “And then that demand just drives the price up. There’s nothing we can do about that. This window continues to surprise everybody I think, but you just need to live in that world.

“We needed players that we’ve identified and managed to get over the line. The cost of those players, I’m sure, is uncomfortable for everybody – that’s not talking about the individual cases, that’s just the price of football players in general. But that’s the market we’re in.

“But you have to be in a position where you’re willing to walk away. You have to draw a line in certain situations, and say, ‘No, we’re not going to pay that money’. Otherwise, where does the game go? It goes to an uncomfortable place, I think. It’s all about the individual player, and judging each situation on individual merits. That’s what we’ve tried to do.”

At the start of the week, Staveley and her advisors had been reasonably confident of being able to sign both a forward and a defender before the Watford game.

The deal for Wood was relatively easy to complete as the Burnley forward had a £25m release clause in his contract at Turf Moor that made it impossible for the Clarets to haggle over his valuation. That has not been the case with Newcastle’s central-defensive targets, hence their failure to reach an agreement.

“We’re not close to anyone else currently,” admitted Howe. “The squad of players we have will be the squad of players we have for Watford.

“We are looking. We’ve got time left in the window, and we know we need to move quickly if we need to try to add more players. Obviously, we’re still active in the market, but there’s no immediate news to give you on that front.”

Given that Newcastle had a full squad for the first half of the season, there will have to be departures to offset the new arrivals.

Provided a new centre-half arrives, at least one of Newcastle’s existing central defenders is expected to leave – Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez have both been linked with possible moves away – and while Howe has ruled out losing Sean Longstaff this month, he has pointedly refused to make a similar pledge about Dwight Gayle.

“We’ll look at that (departures) as we go on through the window,” said Howe. “At the moment, we don’t feel like we have that problem because we’ve had a number of Covid cases and injuries, so the squad’s been stretched.

“We’ve made a welcome two additions that have boosted the numbers in the group, and we do have players returning from certain situations, so those numbers will probably be inflated as we go towards the end of January. Then, we’ll make decision on an individual basis, and try to make the right calls for the players. If there are players that are not happy, we’ll try to find a solution for them.”