Marseille defender Duje Caleta-Car has emerged as an option for Newcastle United if they are not able to land their top defensive target Diego Carlos, 90min understands.
The Magpies are locked in talks with a host of targets and their number one defensive option is Sevilla's Carlos - but as it stands no deal is agreed, despite terms already agreed with the player's camp.
Newcastle have made a number of offers for Carlos, but Sevilla are showing few signs of relenting - sources in Spain have told 90min that it could take paying the player's release clause to get him out of the club.
Sevilla stood firm last summer when Chelsea tried to sign Jules Kounde insisting that they met his release clause if they wanted to sign him. They could now do the same with his defensive partner Carlos.
Triggering Carlos' release clause would set Newcastle back a club-record £66m (€80m) and it remains to be seen if the club's new owners will do so having backed away from other deals for a similar cost.
Newcastle have held talks with Marseille and Croatia centre-back Caleta-Car - who has long been linked with a move to the Premier League.
West Ham and Liverpool have taken a keen interest in the past, and the Hammers are still keeping tabs on his situation as they consider bringing in a defender this month.
We understand that Newcastle are now considering Caleta Car - who is available on a potential loan with a view to a permanent deal, which could suit them.
90min can also reveal that intermediaries acting on Newcastle's behalf have been talking to Benfica, with up to three players being talked about.
Two of the players are striker Darwin Nunez and midfielder Soualiho Meite, while the third is an unknown defender, believed to be Lucas Verissimo.
Uruguayan star Nunez is one of the best young strikers in Europe and has scored 14 goals in 15 games this season, while Brazilian defender Verissimo is also a key player for the Portuguese giants.
Landing either Nunez or Verissimo would constitute huge outlays and although not impossible would be difficult given the deadline is fast approaching at the end of the month. Of the three they have talked to Benfica about, midfielder Meite could be the most attainable.
French midfielder Meite arrived at Benfica after spells with AC Milan, Torino and Monaco - but has struggled for game time and is believed to be available for loan.
Howe has admitted the club are still working hard, and it could come down to the final weeks of the window as they push to seal deals for the likes of Carlos, Hugo Ekitike, Bernd Leno and Jesse Lingard.
“It is a complex thing. We have a huge list of names. It is not as easy as pointing and say: I want him. Players want to know everything about a move. You are never guaranteed to get a player until the last minute. You can waste a lot of time," Howe explained at his latest press conference.
"It’s a very difficult combination of things this January. When you add Covid to the mix, clubs are reluctant to lose players just in case there’s an outbreak at their club.
“I’m sure the takeover has elevated people’s expectations of what Newcastle can pay other clubs.
"Add that all together, and it’s been a very difficult window so far for everybody, but more so when you’re in our position and very keen to add to the group and try to change the dynamics of certain situations within the squad. It’s been very difficult."