Newcastle United look set to lose their top goal scorer this season with Demba Ba poised to move to Chelsea on a permanent deal, meaning manager Alan Pardew will have to be eyeing up replacements already.
The Magpies knew going into the transfer window that they could lose the Senegalese striker at a moment's notice due to the £7 million release clause in his contract, and Ba is now expected to wrap up the move in short time.
Boss Pardew told the BBC website that he was not disappointed to see Ba leave:
I don't think he will be coming back; I think the deal will get done. He will go to Chelsea with our blessing. He has done fantastically for us. It's a big club—good luck to him. For us, it's not a bad thing because of all the uncertainty of whether he was going to stay is now done.
Newcastle will move on, then, but replacing the joint-third top scorer of the Premier League will not be an easy feat for Pardew, with Newcastle struggling badly in the league.
The Magpies have lost eight of their last 10 league matches and are now just two points above the relegation zone, despite the 13 strikes of Ba.
Fellow forwards Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse have only mustered five league goals between them so far, with Cisse netting his fourth of the campaign against Everton on Wednesday.
Newcastle look set to bring in French international right-back Mathieu Debuchy from Lille in the next few days, but it is the striker vacancy that will occupy the thoughts of the club over the remainder of the transfer window.
Here are five forwards who the Magpies might look to in replacing Demba Ba.
High on Pardew's wanted list is French forward Loic Remy.
The 26-year-old has won 17 caps for his country to date and is a powerful and fast striker—very direct—who would be a slightly more versatile upgrade on Demba Ba.
Though he favours playing through the centre, Remy is more than capable of playing from the flanks as he has done so for Marseille this season.
A regular in the squad, Remy does not start too often for the side who lie joint-first in Ligue 1 (third on goal difference) and the Independent claim that Remy is Pardew's first choice to replace Ba.
Remy has just one goal in the league this season, though he has scored twice in Europe as well. He has yet to complete a full 90 minutes in Le Championnat.
The Daily Mail claims that the Magpies are not hugely confident of landing Remy from Marseille and that Maiga, who has scored twice in the Premier League this season, would be an interesting alternative.
Newcastle tried to sign Maiga this time last season only for the deal to collapse because of a failed medical, but the Malian forward has had no injury problems this season for the Hammers.
Even so, he has failed to command a place in Sam Allardyce's team and has started just twice in the top flight, appearing mainly as a substitute.
Like Remy, Maiga can play from the flank as well as from a central position.
Another Premier League striker now, and West Bromwich Albion striker Peter Odemwingie has long been the target of speculation after proving himself a reliable goal scorer with the Baggies.
With Steve Clarke's men faring well so far in the league, currently in seventh place, it is by no means certain that the Nigerian would want to move to a club far worse off at present, even with the prospect of Europa League football next month.
On the other hand, Odemwingie is 31 years old and the Magpies could likely offer a bigger contract than he currently receives from his club; this year might be his last chance to make a big-money move.
Four goals and three assists from 12 starts is a reasonable return from the forward who has featured right the way across the front line this season, with Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long also battling for a spot as the central striker.
Soccernews.com believes that Newcastle could get the deal done for as little as £3 million.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is another name heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, including to the Magpies.
Having scored 24 goals in 54 league matches over the past 18 months Aubameyang has attracted much interest, with Mirror Football claiming it might take Newcastle around £12 million to sign him from St. Etienne.
He has hit eight goals so far this season—only five players have scored more—and averages 3.3 shots per game in league play, which is more than everybody in the Newcastle squad with the exception of the outgoing Demba Ba.
Interestingly Aubameyang has also claimed four assists this term, while Newcastle's top creator is Hatem Ben Arfa with only three.
The old stand-by for Newcastle and someone who Alan Pardew has already admitted he wants to bring back to the club, Andy Carroll won't be joining the Magpies until the summer at the very earliest but remains an outside possibility.
Two years ago Newcastle sold Carroll to Liverpool and ended up waiting until the summer to replace him with Demba Ba, and they could find themselves in the exact reverse of that situation now.
Mirror Football acknowledge that West Ham have a must-buy clause included in Carroll's loan spell but that Newcastle could be ready to tell the striker they want him, trying to convince the on-loan Reds player to turn down the Hammers and return home instead.
Carroll will likely cost in the region of £17 million when he leaves Liverpool in the summer.