The transfer window may be closed, but that hasn't stopped the rumour mill generating speculation ahead of January, and the weekend's reports are linking Newcastle United with a move for either Tom Ince or Wilfried Zaha.
The Magpies have had an inconsistent start to the season, but sit in 11th place after seven games.Alan Pardew's side have scored nine goals this season, which is a decent tally - equal with Manchester United and more than fourth place Southampton - but their leaky defence had allowed 12 goals, with only Crystal Palace and Sunderland conceding more. You would think that defensive reinforcements would be top of the shopping list, but it seems Pardew is seeking a winger, particularly in light of Gabriel Obertan declaring his intention to leave St. James' Park unless he gets more first team football.
Obertan's replacement could be one of two wingers who are prominent for the England Under 21's - Thomas Ince of Blackpool, or Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha.
Starting with Ince, the Blackpool winger has been a revelation since his move from Liverpool in 2011. His 18 goals last season alerted a number of Premier League clubs, and with his contract expiring next summer, the time has come for his manager - and father - Paul Ince to sell his star man.
Ince's representative Chris Nathaniel declared that Ince is ready to move to the Premier League football, amidst rumours of a £4.5m offer being enough to tempt the Seasiders into a sale.
“Thomas now feels he is ready for Premier League football on a regular basis – whether that comes in January or at the end of the season. He is grateful for the chance Blackpool have given him but he now wants to step up a level.”
Meanwhile, the Magpies appear to be in pole position to sign Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha on loan in January. Zaha, 20, will go down as Sir Alex Ferguson's final ever signing at Old Trafford after his £15m move from Crystal Palace in January 2013, but has found first team appearances under David Moyes hard to come by - prompting suggestions of a loan move in the New Year.
An unnamed source close to the Zaha situation reportedly said: "The prospect of playing at Newcastle is the preferred one at present but it depends on United allowing a loan move to happen."
The two wide men are both extremely talented, but given that they would get him permanently and for a knock-down price, Ince appears to be the better option for the future. Zaha may come at a lower cost - and ultimately less risk as there is no future commitment attached to such a loan deal - but Ince's greater eye for goal and the fact that he'd be a Newcastle United asset - giving them the ability to rely on him in the future and possibly sell him on for profit in the future - gives him the upper hand.
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