COMMENT By Matt Farr

The January transfer window is fast approaching and Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez will have already drawn up a list of potential targets to help his side to the Championship title this season.

Newcastle are currently top of the Championship, a point clear of Brighton, having won 16 of their 22 – and eight of their last 10 games.

But the club could lose up to five players next month – Achraf Lazaar, Mo Diame, Christian Atsu, Chancel Mbemba and Cheick Tiote – for the Africa Cup of Nations, which last six weeks.

Therefore, Benitez is almost certain to enter the transfer market in January for reinforcements.  The club have made a number of fantastic January signings in past seasons, and Benitez will be hoping his work next month will follow suit.

Here are three of Newcastle’s best January signings:

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Hatem Ben Arfa, £5m – 2011

Initially signed on loan from Marseille in August 2010, France international Hatem Ben Arfa joined Newcastle on a permanent deal in January 2011, following an impressive showing in the first-half of the campaign.

His first season with the club was affected badly by injury, but Ben Arfa went on to become a big-hit with the Newcastle fans.

From 86 appearances in all competitions for the Magpies across three-and-a-half seasons, the 29-year-old scored 14 goals.

His rich vein of form continued throughout his stay at St. James’ Park, before he fell out of favour with the Magpies hierarchy.

He then joined Hull on loan in September 2014, before his contract was terminated by Newcastle just six months later, when he then moved back to France.

Although Newcastle failed to recoup any of the £5million fee they paid for him back in 2010, the acquisition of Ben Arfa was considered a good piece of business by the fans.

Kevin Nolan, £4m – 2009

In January 2009, Newcastle agreed a £4 million fee for Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan, and he signed a four-year deal with the club.

Nolan established himself as a leader at the club, and became a key figure in Newcastle’s bid to return to the Premier League in 2010 – which they achieved.

Appointed as club captain for their first season back in the Premier League, Nolan continued to have a big influence on the club’s first-team affairs, scoring 12 goals from 32 games in all competitions.

The previous season, Nolan had notched up an impressive 18 goals from 48 appearances, taking his total haul to 30 goals from 91 games in all competitions, from just two-and-a-half seasons at the club.

West Ham then acquired the services of Nolan ahead of the 2011-12 campaign, where he continued as both a leading figure and regular goalscorer.

Papiss Cisse, £10m – 2012

Newcastle acquired a number of regular goalscorers during previous transfer windows, but none quite like Papiss Cisse.

In January 2012, the club splashed out £10million to bring Cisse to the club, where he would link up with his Senegal team-mate and strike-partner, Demba Ba.

Leading the Magpies’ attack together, the pair became a big hit with the fans, and Cisse notched up 44 goals from 131 appearances in all competitions.

Cisse netted some unbelievable goals, including a memorable effort against Chelsea that was chosen as the BBC’s goal of the season for 2012.

The Senegal striker left St. James’ Park following Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship in the summer, and joined Chinese Super League outfit Shandong Luneng.

In other Newcastle news, ex-boss John Carver believes the club are destined for success as long as they keep this man.