Newcastle will be without midfielder Sandro Tonali if he receives a ban from football amid an investigation into illegal betting.
Tonali and Aston Villa midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo were both questioned by police earlier this month in relation to the illegal betting probe.
Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has already been banned for 12 months – five months of which are suspended – as part of the same probe for breaching betting regulations.
If Tonali is found guilty of breaching Article 24 of the sporting justice code – related to betting on football – he could receive a ban of up to three years. That could be halved if he enters a plea agreement.
With an outcome in his case expected soon, it could be the Italy international’s last game for some time if he does receive a ban from football.
Should he be banned, here are four free agents Newcastle could potentially sign in January amid concerns over Financial Fair Play (FFP).
A combative midfielder, the 28-year-old only made eight Ligue 1 appearances this term after suffering a long-term ankle injury, but returned to play a part in Rennes’ pre-season.
But he left the Spanish club upon their relegation and is now a free agent.
Now recovered from injury, the 30-year-old could be of value to Newcastle as a short-term pickup, having played over 35 games in five of his eight seasons at the club.
Some fans will remember the days when Luiz Gustavo was linked with a move to Arsenal every window around 10 years ago.
Having been released by the Saudi Pro League club due to foreign player rules, he is currently a free agent. Age might count against him, though – as well as his lack of match fitness.
While not a replacement for Tonali as they play in different midfield roles, Lingard would be an extra player in midfield for Newcastle if Eddie Howe looks in-house to replace Tonali’s exact position.
The former Manchester United midfielder has been training with West Ham and Al Ettifaq but is yet to secure himself a permanent club.
Another one that may not quite be of the required quality for the Magpies, but he does have Champions League experience and, you suspect, a move would be his last chance to showcase himself at the top level.