By Wayne Veysey

28th Oct, 2021 | 6:45am

Sources: Newcastle plot January Ward-Prowse raid after Aston Villa bid rejected

Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse is a firm target for Newcastle United in January, Football Insider understands.

The midfielder, 26, signed a new Saints contract in August after strong summer interest from Aston Villa.

But that will not stop newly-rich Newcastle and a club source has told Football Insider they will explore the possibility of a deal ahead of the January window.

Beefing up the midfield is considered by PiF’s transfer advisors to be as much of a priority as the defence.

This site revealed on 25 October that Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba is on Newcastle’s preliminary target list and they will also be in the race for Man United’s Jesse Lingard with the likes of Everton and West Ham.

Like Lingard, Ward-Prowse offers proven Premier League calibre as well as the capacity to score and create goals.

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He has netted twice from seven league matches this season after a stellar 2020-21 campaign in which his 38 league games yielded eight goals and seven assists.

Ward-Prowse is also a dead-ball specialist and that has led to talent spotters delivering rave reviews over him in recent years.

Southampton rejected a £25m bid from Villa for Ward-Prowse in the summer window.

His representatives were able to use the bids and high-level interest in their client to negotiate an improved contract for a player valued at £40m by the Saints.

Newcastle are expected to be the busiest Premier League club in the January window following the Saudi-led takeover that was completed earlier this month.

In other news, a Newcastle United source has revealed who is PiF’s real ‘No 1 choice’ to take over as the new manager as move lined up.