A clutch of Newcastle United players are eyeing summer exits at St James’s Park – but there will be NO fire sale.
The club was this week relegated from the Premier League.
And a huge overhaul of the squad is expected this summer given the need to adapt the team to the demands of the Championship.
A number of players, including Moussa Sissoko, Papiss Cisse, Daryl Janmaat, Cheick Tiote and Georginio Wijnaldum, are among those considering their futures at St James’s Park.
They could all feature in tomorrow’s final home game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur.
But owner Mike Ashley will NOT order their sale to balance the books, and he feels if players are to leave, their departures must be on the club’s terms.
Newcastle stand to lose tens of millions of pounds in broadcast revenues next season.
However, the final decision on the squad will be left to manager Rafa Benitez – should he commit to the club in the Championship.
Benitez – who has a clause in his three-year deal allowing him to leave in the summer – held “productive” talks with managing director Lee Charnley this week.
United kept a core of highly-paid players the last time it was relegated to the Championship in 2009, though it has been questioned whether the class of 2016 has the character and commitment needed for English football’s second tier.
While Benitez, should he stay on Tyneside, will want to move a number of players on, he would also want to keep some of the club’s more saleable assets.
And he will want the proceeds of any sales reinvested in the squad.
Wijnaldum and Ayoze Perez are certain to attract interest this summer, though the latter signed a new long-term deal at Newcastle earlier this year.
And Janmaat has this week been linked with Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli.
Meanwhile, Andros Townsend has a relegation clause in his deal and the winger would be free to leave if it is activated.