Ki Sung-yueng 'likely to leave' Newcastle United - these are his options amidst Celtic and Swansea interest
Steve Bruce is reportedly keen to move the ex-Sunderland midfielder on this month – the South Korean has featured just four times this season, most recently in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Rochdale in the FA Cup and looks likely to leave on deadline day, according to reports.
But with just hours left until the transfer deadline, Ki’s options look to be narrowing.
So where do the Magpies and the midfielder stand? We take a look:
What are Ki's options in Britain?
The most logical move for Ki would be one to an English or Scottish team - both of whom see their respective transfer windows close at 11pm on Friday, January 31.
Both of Ki's former clubs – Swansea and Celtic – have reportedly both shown interest. However, Ki is believed to be on £60,000 a week at St James’s Park - which has thrown a spanner in the works for a potential return to a former club.
Few - if any - clubs in the Championship or Scottish Premiership will have the financial firepower to match Ki’s current wage package, making a move to the Premier League most likely, though little interest from top-tier clubs has been shown thus far.
Any deal potential will have to be completed by 11pm on today.
What about a move to America?
A player of Ki’s stature could be of interest to MLS clubs, given the player’s commercial pull in South Korea, although there would be some hurdles to overcome should any American sides show an interest.
While the English window closes on January 31, MLS clubs cannot register new signings until February 12 - with their window then closing on May 5.
It’s worth noting that Newcastle can sell Ki after the close of the English window, providing the purchasing club’s respective window remains open - meaning a move to the MLS after Friday’s deadline is a possibility.
A more complex hurdle, however, may be that of the MLS’ international roster slots.
Each club is allocated a certain number of international players, with limits placed on foreign imports in order to promote the development of homegrown American talent.
As of the start of January, there were 58 international player slots available across the league, with a number of clubs having already registered their quota of overseas stars.
That, therefore, limits the number of clubs Ki could sign for in the MLS to:
Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United, Montreal Impact, Nashville SC, New England Revolution, New York City, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto and Vancouver Whitecaps.
All these clubs have at least one - and in some cases, several, international roster spots available - meaning a move for Ki could be possible.
Are there any other options?
A number of other windows that will remain open after the English deadline passes.
Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Portugal and Russia are among the European nations whose windows close in February as opposed to January - handing Ki some added options.
It remains to be seen whether he would be interested in swapping Britain – where he has spent the last 11 years of his career – for Europe.
Could Newcastle United rip-up his contract?
Now, this issue is a fairly complex one.
Both the club and Ki would have to agree to a termination of his contract, which runs out at the end of the season, and there may be compensation or a settlement of sorts involved.
However, there is a key rule to consider should this option be pursued.
Recent changes to the FIFA transfer guidelines mean that players can only be registered outside a ‘registration period’ - or transfer window - if their contract has been terminated or expired during the previous window.
That means that should Ki wish to join a new club before the summer, he will need to have his contract terminated by January 31.
If his contract is terminated after the deadline passes, he won’t be able to register for a new club until the summer window.
Guideline 6.1 states: “As an exception to this rule, a professional whose contract has expired prior to the end of a registration period may be registered outside that registration period.”
What is the current state of play?
Steve Bruce has praised Ki's impressive attitude in training – but remains hopeful a buyer will come in so Newcastle United can free up money in wages.
Speaking in December about potential exits, Bruce said: "Ki is another one - I’m sure there’ll be two or three.
"If you’re not paying regularly when you get to a certain age, you’re entitled to knock down the door. I know what I was like. I wouldn’t accept that I couldn’t play on a Saturday."