The masterstroke Aston Villa and Newcastle United swap deal that would see both clubs finish January stronger

Newcastle United and Aston Villa could team up to help patch each other's Premier League squads until the summer

The January transfer window offers clubs the chance to reinforce ahead of the March, April, May run-in. Traditionally, the summer months are when clubs act prudently, with high-profile players waiting until the off-season before securing a dream move.

On occasion, the chequebook may come out in the winter when teams are in dire straits. For Newcastle United supporters, you may remember 2013, 2016 and 2021 as recent years when your club loosened the purse strings and enjoyed a winter splurge.

The same was expected again given the crippling injury list and underwhelming opening half of the campaign. Eddie Howe has rarely been afforded the opportunity to field his strongest starting line-up in 2023-24, with Newcastle sliding down the table as a result.

But Toon chiefs continue to be hamstrung by Financial Fair Play regulations or, to be precise, the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. Long gone are the days when Middle Eastern money could bankroll a club to superstardom without all the checks and balances in place.

Newcastle enjoyed “surprise package” status last season as they stormed to a Champions League finish. This time around, Aston Villa are aiming to replicate that feat, becoming the latest also-ran to catapult themselves into the big time. Villa are one of five English clubs to have won the European Cup but have not dined at the continent’s top table since the Champions League re-brand in 1992. Like Newcastle, they also operate in the tier below the Premier League’s “big hitters” financially, limiting their spending power.

The FFP/PSR vice is tightening for both clubs despite relative success in recent times. That accentuates the argument against financial governance, highlighting the difficulty of sustaining competition against the top bracket. Another article for another day, perhaps…

But could Villa and Newcastle - two clubs that have endured a frosty relationship since “Sob On The Tyne” all those years ago - get creative with each other to ease their transfer woes? Reports have linked the Magpies with a move for Villa youngster Jacob Ramsey. Newcastle’s engine room is light, with Joe Willock, Joelinton and Sandro Tonali out. Only three first-team options in midfield is hardly ideal despite the fixture list easing up from January onwards.

Howe refuted the Ramsey links at his pre-match press conference ahead of, ironically, his side’s trip to Villa Park tomorrow. He said: “Incorrect (whether Ramsey is a player Newcastle are targeting). But as I said so many times, we are guardians of the club’s future and we want to make the right decisions. We don’t want to breach FFP and that’s where I will support the decisions made for the long-term future.”

Villa, too, are light of options at right-back. Unai Emery added Serbian prodigy Kosta Nedeljkovic to his ranks last week but he was loaned immediately back to Red Star Belgrade. Matty Cash remains the only senior option at the club - a gamble which could prove costly as they are competing on three fronts both domestically and in Europe. While hardly a signing that would set the world alight, might a move for Emil Krafth not prove a shrewd piece of business?

As mentioned, the winter window is often a time for spontaneity rather than long-term vision. At 29, Krafth has made 70 appearances for Newcastle and played 44 times for Sweden, including two knockout games in the 2018 World Cup.

Young Villans would not be queuing up at the club store to get his name on their shirts but a savvy loan signing until the end of the season, with Ramsey gaining much-needed minutes at St James’ Park, is not unthinkable. To put it bluntly, Newcastle need a midfielder, Villa could do with cover at right-back.

Clubs outside the Premier League “big six” must devise cunning plans to topple the pack. For how long that may be is anybody’s guess, with talk already emerging about a rethink regarding FFP/PSR. A Ramsey/Krafth swap - Panini sticker book style - could prove a short-term masterstroke.