Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez will attempt to prise Fulham captain Tom Cairney away from Craven Cottage in the January transfer window despite failing in his previous efforts to sign the Scotland midfielder.
Cairney, 26, has been admired by Benitez for some time but speculation over his future was defused after he signed a new four-year contract with Slavisa Jokanovic's side in the summer. The 26-year-old was given the captain's armband after penning fresh terms with the Whites and was hoping to lead a promotion push in west London, but a troublesome knee problem has restricted Cairney to just five league starts this season, with his side's hopes of reaching the Premier League fading fast.
Fulham currently occupy 17th in the Championship with 19 points from their opening 16 matches, and Newcastle boss Benitez will try to take advantage of their poor form, along with the growing uncertainty surrounding Jokanovic's position, in order to lure Cairney to St James' Park, according to the Northern Echo.
Fulham reportedly rejected a £20m offer from Newcastle for Cairney in the summer transfer window, and it remains to be seen if Benitez will be afforded the funds necessary to spend heavily in January with talks of a takeover quietening in recent weeks.
Current owner Mike Ashley will presumably be reluctant to pump a substantial amount of money into Newcastle in the January transfer window if he is still in charge at that point, but Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners group is unlikely to have the funds required to buy Ashley out of the club by the end of the year.
The club's ownership may prove to be a crucial factor in Benitez's pursuit of the Fulham skipper, but former Liverpool boss will pursue a deal for Cairney regardless of who his holding the purse strings at Newcastle come the winter. Cairney's potential arrival would no doubt push the likes of Mo Diame and Jack Colback closer to the St James' Park exit door; Benitez recently stated that the latter has no future with the Magpies.
If Benitez is not given the funds to buy Cairney outright, he may be able to use one of his fringe players as a bargaining chip. Fulham made a late move to try and buy Dwight Gayle in the summer transfer window and had a £15m bid for the striker, but Newcastle were ultimately reluctant to part with the former Crystal Palace star without first bringing in a replacement. Gayle has made only three starts for Benitez's side and is still waiting for his first goal of the season.