Newcastle United's contract crisis being held up by takeover uncertainty

Uncertainty is a feeling that reigns supreme at Newcastle United – it has done so for some time.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 12:30 pm

The club’s ownership is up in the air – as the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Reuben Brothers and PCP Capital Partners deal talk rumbles on – while Steve Bruce, his tactics and his team are questioned, quite rightly so, at every turn.

In this certainty vacuum one problem looms large on the horizon – and it may already be having an impact on what happens on and off the park at United.

Contracts – and talk of extensions – seem to have been put on the back burner for now, with January set to prove a crucial month for Mike Ashley, his right-hand man Justin Barnes and their legal team in their fight to push through the Newcastle United takeover.

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Federico Fernandez of Newcastle United celebrates with teammate Fabian Schar after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton FC at St. James Park on December 08, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

So who is out of contract – and what’s their chances of remaining on Tyneside beyond June?

Our writer Liam Kennedy takes a look at TEN Magpies whose deals are up in the summer – and assesses whether their time is up, or new terms could be on the way.

A defensive crisis – the unsteady base

Players out of contract: Ciaran Clark, Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez

It’s a travesty it’s been allowed to get to this, but arguably Newcastle’s three best central defenders are all allowed to now talk to teams on the continent. Two – Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar – would most likely attract interest from Europe, too, should they leave St James’s Park.

Ciaran Clark is the club’s Mr Consistent and deserves a new deal. It seems like he might well get one, too. But the futures of the other two are less certain.

Fernandez definitely deserves a new deal and it could prove hard to replace such a solid all round defender for the price it would cost to keep him. But will he get another one? Last summer would have made sense to extend but the option on the player’s contract is all that was taken up.

Schar is the most likely to leave for free. Strangely, that would have been unthinkable two seasons ago, when he was the Magpies’ stand-out defensive performer.

The striker conundrum – the end of the road?

Players out of contract: Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle

Andy Carroll is enjoying an Indian summer at United, well a very short one, anyway. He was excellent against Arsenal and showed he can still add value at 32, even though his impact this campaign has been sparing.

Will be get another extension in the summer? United may well look to improve their options in this department – and that brings Dwight Gayle into the mix, too.

A very pricey option to extend in terms of wages looks likely to count against the player, unless another short-term deal can be struck. Manager Steve Bruce seems to be in favour of that, the club’s hierarchy may agree if they think a potential Gayle sale can return a fee for the player who could have left for Fulham two years ago for a fee in the region of £15 million.

The right side flyers – one in, out out?

Players out of contract: DeAndre Yedlin, Jacob Murphy

This certainly looks like the end of the road for DeAndre Yedlin, even if he has proven himself still United’s best option in the right-back slot. That says more about the strength of the United squad, poor recruitment and a lack of improvement than it does about the USA international.

A move to Turkey has been mooted, there has also been plenty of interest from the likes of the MLS and also the Bundesliga. Yedlin himself, linked with a move this month, may well see his best route to the best deal could be to hang on and leave on a Bosman in the summer.

Jacob Murphy is an interesting one. Should he stay or should he go?

He is an OK player in many ways, able to deliver from the right, capable with both feet and with a goal in him. But does the Norwich City academy graduate have the consistency to perform at that level week-in, week-out in the Premier League. Really, we are yet to determine that.

Plenty of interest crops up every window, but loan deals have never really saw him secure a permanent move. Given his chance under Bruce, too, Murphy – a Newcastle United fan – is yet to really make any position his own in the starting XI.

The others – Newcastle’s forgotten trio

Players out of contract: Christian Atsu, Henri Saivet, Achraf Lazaar

It’s easy to forget players when they are chopped from the first-team pool – these three fit very much into this category.

It is important, however, not to tar the trio with the same brush.

Christian Atsu has been, at times, a valuable servant to Newcastle United and can leave with his head held high.

The other two? Less so.

Henri Saivet was signed in January 2016 and has played just eight games in five years. That goal against West Ham is all he really has to show for it.

Achraf Lazaar was a mistake. Rafa Benitez knew it almost from the minute he walked through the door. A poor tip from a contact, much like Jesus Gamez (who?).

All three are certain to leave and United will bin them now, if they can.

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