Newcastle United have reportedly identified highly-rated Lille defender Sven Botman as a priority signing in the January transfer window.

According to transfer expert, Fabrizio Romano, Newcastle United are keen to sign Lille’s defensive stalwart Sven Botman in January and have put the Dutchman at the top of their wishlist. The Magpies are waiting to hear about Lille’s position and asking price. The Netherlands U21 international has a contract with Lille until 2025.

Regarded as one of Europe’s most promising central defenders, Botman’s stock has taken a rapid steep ever since signing for Lille from Ajax in the summer of 2020. The 21-year-old had a successful debut season in the French top-flight, where he was a key member of the Lille side that bucked the trend by upsetting Paris Saint-Germain to clinch the Ligue 1 title.

Many top clubs from around the continent are keeping an eye on his development, impressed by his commanding displays and ball-playing traits. He was heavily linked with Wolves in the summer, but a move never materialized. Botman has also been on the radars of AC Milan. And it now appears that Newcastle United are also taking a serious interest in the Ajax academy graduate.

Newcastle’s defensive vulnerabilities again came to light over the weekend, as they were haplessly beaten 4-0 by an out-of-form Leicester City side. The Magpies have now conceded the most number of goals in the division, 34 from 16 games, and are currently languishing in 19th place in the table with just one win all season.

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They are, however, only three points adrift of safety, while a lot of teams above them can still get dragged into the relegation muddle. Hence, the upcoming transfer window will be of utmost importance to Newcastle, and if the new owners play their cards properly in the transfer market, Eddie Howe & co. will have a better chance of getting out of their current predicament.

The Toon have been linked with several high-profile players over the past couple of months. However, their primary focus should be on acquiring solid centre-backs capable of tightening up a leaky defence. Moves for Burnley’s defensive duo James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have been touted recently, but it is highly unlikely that the Clarets will do business with a relegation rival, which might shift Newcastle’s attention to overseas talents.

Signing someone of Botman’s pedigree and ceiling would be a big coup for the Magpies. He could just be what the doctor ordered; his athleticism, composure, recovery pace and aerial prowess are tailormade for the high-intense nature of the Premier League, while he has the potential to become an elite defender. And although he might be expensive, valued at around the £40 million mark by Lille, the 21-year-old would be an investment with significant short-term and long-term returns.

However, the Ligue 1 club may be hesitant to sell their prized asset midway through the season, especially after qualifying for Champions League last 16. Moreover, with Newcastle presently on the wrong end of the table, a switch to Tyneside would be hard to sell. What now remains to be seen is whether the Magpies could manage to get the deal over the line or turn to other alternatives.

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