It is fair to say that things could be going a lot better for Newcastle this season.
Having lost four Premier League games on the bounce, Eddie Howe’s side are struggling to emulate the brilliance of last season.
Their injury list makes grim reading.
It includes the likes of Nick Pope, Callum Wilson and Harvey Barnes.
And midfielder Joelinton became the latest addition to to the painfully-long list.
He is in danger of missing the remainder of the season after picking up a thigh injury in their 3-0 FA Cup win over Sunderland.
The even worse news for the Magpies is that they are somewhat helpless when it comes to their current plight.
In a recent press conference, Howe admitted there was a general feeling that hands were tied when it came to salvaging the situation.
He said: “In an ideal world, given the freedom to act we would have brought players in already.
“But we’re not in that situation… Financial Fair Play is a problem for us, and we’re having to navigate round that. That’s the position we’re in.”
Who could be on their way out?
FFP rules dictate that clubs are limited to losses of no more than £105million in a three-year period.
Newcastle CEO Darren Eales sparked concerns that a number of players could soon be sold in order to comply with Premier League spending rules.
Eales was asked specifically whether key players Alexander Isak, Sven Botman or Bruno Guimaraes could be on their way out of the club as a result of FFP rules.
He told Sky Sports: “On any player, at any time, it depends on circumstances.
“It’s difficult to hypothesise but, if we’re offered £1 billion for one of those players, then no-one could argue against that making sense.
“Any decision we make will always be against the backdrop of the medium to long-term benefit for the club. It’s difficult to say specifically on certain players, but I can say that, if we’re going to get to where we want to get to, at times it is necessary to trade your players.”
Guimaraes could be particularly vulnerable to outside interest as the Brazilian has a release clause of £100m in his contract.
He would be a great loss indeed – and he is not the only player who has been the subject of speculation.
Now, added to the list of those whose future could be in doubt is Joelinton.
Some fear his injury means he could now have made his last appearance in a Magpies shirt due to a contract stand-off.
And Kieran Trippier could now be on his way out after Bayern Munich expressed a keen interest in adding the defender to their ranks.
Superstar striker Alexander Isak has been linked with Premier League rivals Arsenal – but the 24-year-old is tied to St James’ Park until 2028 so the Magpies have no urgent need to cash in.
Club captain Jamal Lascelles is yet another potential exit – he will also be a free agent by the summer and has already attracted interest from Turkish club Besiktas.
Meanwhile, Newcastle veteran Matt Ritchie could soon be on the hunt for a club that can offer him more game-time.
The winger has been with the club since 2016 but may well now feel a change is due.
Newcastle’s openness to offers in view of their profit and sustainability position means any numbers of these players could be out the door in the near future.
Who could step up for Newcastle?
But it might not all be quite as bad as it sounds for Newcastle.
In their potential mass exodus lies great opportunity for a number of younger players to step up on the big occasions.
Trippier’s potential move to Bayern Munich has been hailed by fans as the perfect chance for Tino Livramento to take his spot in the starting XI.
Fans have taken to X, formerly known as Twitter, to express their approval at the idea.
One wrote: “I’m going to be really controversial here, but if it’s a half decent fee for Trippier, I’d let him go. Livramento is the future, and there’s only so long we can hold him back. Not sure potentially losing him down the line, at the expense of a 33 year old makes much sense.”
And it is not just Livramento who could take advantage of a vacancy.
Lewis Miley, who is still just 17, has hardly seemed to show his lack of experience during the ten appearances he has made for the club this season.
He became Newcastle’s youngest ever Premier League player when he made his debut, and could one day be set to become one of their best.
Likewise, 19-year-old Lewis Hall, who has been on-loan from Chelsea since summer, has made eight Premier League appearances this season and shown great potential.
If Newcastle manage to make his signing permanent at the end of the season, he could be nurtured into another young star.
New signings on the horizon
Newcastle will also be looking beyond their own ranks to bolster their squad going forward.
Given the injury to Pope, a new goalkeeper could be a priority and Giorgio Mamardashvili is one of the names linked to the club.
The Georgian international currently plays for Valencia where he has impressed many, having already made 76 appearances.
The 23-year-old played every single league game for Valencia last season and would be an impressive acquisition for the Magpies if they manage to pull it off.
Bayern Leverkusen’s Edmond Tapsoba is another name who has been on Newcastle’s radar for some time.
The defender signed a five-year contract extension with Bayern Leverkusen in September 2023, but the Magpies were keen on signing him last summer and could well renew their interest.
Barcelona winger Raphinha could also be set to join Howe’s side after a disappointing spell at the Spanish club.
Raphinha – who has two years’ Premier League experience from his time at Leeds United – was one of the club’s targets last summer and his attacking flair could benefit a team whose ranks are continually thinning.
With such new signings, Newcastle could end up with a transformed starting XI ready to take them into next season and beyond.
Indeed, in a squad which seems to be struggling to find their feet, a shake-up of personnel could end up being exactly what they need.