The January transfer rumour mill is in full swing and it’s no surprise that early in the window we were seeing Newcastle linked with defenders – we need a whole new back four after all. The arrival of Kieran Trippier is an excellent start but it’s all gone a bit quiet of late when it comes to serious progress being made on other players. If reports are to believed, Newcastle’s top 2 CB targets in this window, and possibly beyond, are Sven Botman and Diego Carlos.

I knew of Botman and how highly regarded he is but less seems to be known and written about Diego Carlos, certainly in this country. That said, there is enough out there to convince me that as a CB pairing, Botman and Carlos would be a great match and provide a soldi foundation for the team. They complement each other almost perfectly with Botman the more calming presence and Carlos being a little more fiery in terms of his personality. You wouldn’t know it looking at his stats, for a commanding and frankly huge (his shoulders are the width of a bus) CB, he manages to stay out of the Ref’s little notebook more often than not. He’s had 19 appearances this season in La Liga and picked up only 2 yellow cards – unfortunately they were in the same game so he took an early bath.

He currently plays for Sevilla who sit second in La Liga, just 5 points behind Real Madrid. What’s telling though is that Sevilla have conceded fewer goals than any other team in La Liga, you can’t do that if even 1 of your CBs is duff – as Newcastle fans, we should know. Unlike Botman who is only 21, Carlos leans more towards the Trippier type of signing – he’ll be 29 in March and is vastly experienced albeit not at the level of Trippier.

Carlos played in his native Brazil until a free transfer saw him move to Portugal with Estoril Praia in the summer of 2014 only to then go on loan that September to Porto’s B team which is their youth setup – he’d certainly not been pulling up any trees by this stage in his career. Returning from his loan in June 2015, Carlos spent only 1 season with Estoril Praia before FC Nantes spent just over £1m to take him to France in July 2016. This is where things started to take off for Carlos and he played 34 times in his debut season – Nantes finished the season in 7th, a 7-place improvement on the previous season but they were still leaking goals – 54 in total for that season. The context for this is that Lyon finished 4thconceding 48.Another point of note is that we probably all know who Carlos is if not immediately by name.

He accidently collided with referee Tony Chapron in a Nantes league game against PSG and the referee’s response went viral within minutesas he kicked Carlos before sending him off. What followed was a 6 month ban for the referee and the rescinding of the Carlos red card by the French Football Federation. Similar league finishes and issues with a leaky defence followed in 2017 and 2018 for Nantes but Carlos was starting to attract the attention of bigger clubs in Europe – it seemed at this stage that he was a very promising player in a very average side.

In July 2019, Carlos joined Sevilla for £13.5m, signing a 5-year deal and he’s played nearly 90 league games in Spain since. Much was made of the Carlos arriving at Sevilla as he was the first signing by Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, or ‘Monchi’ since he returned to the club as Sporting Director – Sevilla didn’t even have a manager in place when Carlos arrived. Monchi is credited with discovering players such as Sergio Ramos, Alberto Moreno and Jesus Navas so he seems to be able to spot a good player.

Carlos is today valued at around £40m and whilst it’s easy to think about the last £40m Brazilian we had through the door at SJP, it looks like far more due diligence has been done this time around. For me, the transfer window is about upgrades and Carlos would be an upgrade on pretty much every CB we’ve had at the club for as long as I can remember. That’s probably an exaggeration when I think about Kilcline,Albert, Dabizas and Colo but he would certainly be an upgrade on what we have available in the middle of a back 4 or back 5 right now. Our defence has been neglected for far too long and whilst Carlos would be a statement of intent, he would offer so much more – a strong, commanding and intelligent player with confidence. Put simply, he’s just better than what we have.

Like Lille with Botman, Sevilla don’t want to sell but also like Lille, the expectation is that money will talk but whether it happens now or in the summer (Premier League status pending) is another matter. Reports over the last few days suggest our chances of signing our top CB targets from Sevilla and Lille are diminishing with some even suggesting there’s “no chance” in this window – I certainly hope that’s not the case. Both would be great signings but Carlos in particular, given his slightly older age, would signify real intent form our new owners to move away from transfer policies of the past by simply signing good players almost regardless of age who are attracting interest from big clubs whilst their current clubs remain reluctant to sell.

The window is gathering pace and whilst I would have liked more singings through the door by now, I’m still hopeful that we’ll have Carlos, Botman and Trippier in our back line soon, and hopefully this month. With a combined cost reported to be less than what Man Utd paid for Harry Maguire, it would be excellent business.

Rus Trevethick – Twitter: Rus8410