Former Premier League striker Noel Whelan has backed Newcastle to sign James Maddison given the struggles of his current employers.

Newcastle made multiple attempts to sign the playmaker in the summer but failed to reach the desired £60m asking price.

Nonetheless, reports from The Northern Echo have suggested that the Toon will make the 25-year-old their number one target in January and, given Leicester’s dismal start to the campaign, Whelan is of the impression that Maddison will end up at St. James’ Park.

The Foxes are bottom of the table after seven matches with just one point from a possible 21, and the pundit believes that the east Midlands outfit will need to cash in. 

Whelan told Football Insider: “I can definitely see it happening now with the start Leicester have had.

“He’s been very mature about it. He’s not kicked up a fuss, and I think Brendan Rodgers will appreciate that.

“He’s been putting in the performances and the effort – and you can see what a standout he is even if Leicester aren’t winning games.

“I can’t see them climbing too far up the league between now and January. With his contract running down, I think Leicester have got to capitalise on that.

“They need the money if they’re going to go out and buy players.

“He’d be a brilliant fit at Newcastle, I don’t think they have a player quite like him at the moment.

“He’s probably the missing piece of the puzzle which would give them the complete midfield.”

Previously dubbed ‘world-class’ by England manager Gareth Southgate, Maddison scored 21 times and produced a further 13 assists in all competitions since the start of last season.

Leicester’s Player of the Year from last season significantly outscored (18) Newcastle’s leading marksman Callum Wilson last term (8) ,while fellow midfielders Bruno Guimaraes, Joe Willock, Joelinton and Johnjo Shelvey managed 13 strikes between them.

A goal threat from deep would be sure to take Eddie Howe’s men to new heights having struggled for goals in recent weeks, with just one goal from open play across their last three games.