"He'll be just like a new signing" is a joke phrase among the Newcastle fanbase. The club, renowned for their thrifty ways and willingness to spin a story, will latch onto any thread of information that makes it look as if they're working incredibly hard to actively improve the team, even if it's something coincidental like a player's return from injury. Ostensibly, fans are happy with fresh players, even if they happen to have already been under contract.
It appears increasingly likely that the January 2015 transfer window is going to be one of those windows where Newcastle's business is all internal. Even the tabloids have stopped pretending to link the Toon to any player that hasn't already donned the black and white. The only question appears to be about whether or not they will be able to hang onto all of their assets.
Meanwhile, fresh faces may indeed present themselves on Tyneside. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who at the outset of the season was loaned out to AS Roma, is no longer welcome there due to a clause in his contract that says they would have to purchase him for £5.5 million. Roma have now officially canceled his loan, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be returning to Newcastle. (The Daily Star) The prevailing thought is that Roma are simply negotiating a lower purchase price, since he has become a semi-regular part of their defensive rotation. In any case, rumor has it that Newcastle are not interested in taking him back, despite the fact that they desperately need central defenders and Yanga-Mbiwa has done well for himself at a club that competed in the Champions League this year.
Incidentally, I have to wonder how large a role the now-infamous "mistake" interview is playing in this troubling situation. (The Chronicle) I don't speak Italian - I sound like Lt. Aldo Raine, and I know about as many words as he does - but Google Translate makes the entire exchange seem very benign (Tutto Mercato Web): "I'm here to prove that the adventure in the Premier is only an error." To me, he sounds like a player acknowledging that he didn't play to his potential, and wants to do better. Of course, given that he also insists in the interview that he's not a full back, it could be a veiled shot at Alan Pardew. Either way, it looks like a bridge has been burned, which is a shame. Newcastle need to acquire a center back before the end of the month. This could have been it. (See above.)
Meanwhile, Jonás Gutiérrez, who just two months ago said that he "will never forgive [Alan Pardew]," is presumably going to be given a chance to work his way back into the first team. (The Chronicle) Jonás, of course, has recovered from testicular cancer, and this week scored for the reserves. He hasn't played for the senior squad in over a year, and went to Chris Hughton's Norwich City last January. Now, it appears that Sheffield Wednesday are interested in a similar deal. (The Chronicle)
Finally, a host of players are close to returning from injury. The closest to a "new signing" is undoubtedly Siem de Jong. De Jong returned to training on Thursday and could bolster an attack that struggles without Papiss Cissé. It remains to be seen what role he'd play exactly - perhaps the rejuvenated Rémy Cabella will be relegated to bench duty once more, or maybe Yoan Gouffran will finally receive some much-needed rest. The cynic will say that he'll be a Moussa Sissoko replacement. I wish I could argue with the cynic in this case, but we've seen Mike Ashley do worse.