Newcastle United could launch a bid to bring Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney to St. James' Park this January after expressing interest - but have been told to cough up £8m.

According to the ​Northern Echo, Rafa Benitez is in the market for a central midfielder and had wanted to wrap up an early deal to cover the position but has been unsuccessful thus far.

Brentford v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship

Benitez needs reinforcements after it was reported that Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote is nearing a move to either Sporting Gijon or Leganes on a free transfer.

The Magpies have also been linked with loan moves for Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Manchester City's Fabian Delph and Everton's Tom Cleverley, but may lose out to other Premier League clubs.

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Due to the threat of losing out on those players, Benitez has now decided to pursue Cairney, who has developed into one of the Championship's best creative midfielders.

The 25-year-old Scot joined the Cottagers from Blackburn in 2015 for £4m, and has helped his side push for promotion back to the Premier League with five goals in 24 appearances.

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic said of his prized asset: "Tom Cairney is so important to us. He makes us tick, and he shows he can do damage to teams. I’m going to guarantee he’s going to stay with us.”

Fulham v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship

Jokanovic's "hands-off" approach will surely be tested though if Newcastle do indeed make a bid of around £8m. Fulham see Cairney as vital to their promotion push and will not want to sell for anything less than double what they paid to sign him.​