The stat that shows why Jonathan Viera is perfect for Newcastle United

Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks to break away from Jonathan Viera of Las Palmas during the La Liga match between UD Las Palmas and Barcelona at Estadio de Gran Canaria on May 14, 2017 in...

Newcastle United have been linked with a January swoop for Las Palmas midfielder Jonathan Viera.

Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United during the The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Luton Town at St James' Park on January 6, 2018 in Newcastle upon...

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez confirmed to The Chronicle on Friday that he is still unaware of what his budget is for the January transfer window.

The Spaniard would like to bring in some new players to aid Newcastle’s fight against relegation, but uncertainty over the club’s ownership has complicated his funding.

According to The Telegraph, Las Palmas midfielder Jonathan Viera is top of Benitez’s wishlist, and could be available this month for £18m with his club bottom of La Liga and ready to cash in.

Jonathan Viera of UD Las Palmas greets the audience with his teammates after the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and UD Las Palmas at Vicente Calderon Stadium on December 17,...

The 28-year-old would be the perfect buy for Newcastle, who are desperately short of creativity and a goal threat from midfield, increasing the pressure on their less-than-prolific strike force.

Of any player to have appeared more than once this season, Viera tops the La Liga stats for key passes per game with 2.9, with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi second to the Spaniard.

That is the same figure that Philippe Coutinho averaged with Liverpool in the Premier League this term, and fewer than only Kevin de Bruyne, Cesc Fabregas and Mesut Ozil in England’s top flight.

Matt Ritchie (l) and Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle react during the Sky Bet Championship match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St James' Park on April 14, 2017 in Newcastle upon...

Matt Ritchie is the top-ranked Newcastle player in this category - 23rd with 1.7 key passes per game - while Benitez’s creative lynchpin Jonjo Shelvey is way down in 62nd with a disappointing 1.2.

Viera, 28, is a finisher as well as a supplier, ending last campaign with seven goals for Las Palmas, which is more than the whole of Newcastle’s midfield has combined for this season.

Benitez will be hoping that either Mike Ashley, or prospective new owner Amanda Staveley, according to BBC Sport, will free up the money for him to sign Viera before the window closes.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch