Out-of-contract Federico Fernandez is the one to watch at Newcastle United this summer
He was always the one to watch this summer.
One of Rafa Benitez’s best Newcastle United signings could yet leave the club at the end of the month – for nothing.
However, arguably the most important piece of contract housekeeping involves Federico Fernandez signed by Benitez from Swansea City three years ago.
That summer, the Fernandez deal was probably the most least heralded of a summer which also saw Salomon Rondon join on loan and Martin Dubravka make his move to St James’s Park permanent.
The £6million signing of Fernandez – who had also played for Benitez at Napoli – didn’t exactly capture the imagination of fans on Tyneside.
Benitez said it was an “easy decision” to bring Fernandez, also labelled “a very good professional”, to Newcastle, and the centre-half easily settled into the team.
Fernandez is a complete defender. He’s strong in the air, composed on the ball, and adept at being in the right place at the right time. He leads by example, and that leadership was important last season when club skipper Jamaal Lascelles was sidelined by an injury.
Off the pitch, Fernandez and his family settled well on Tyneside. So why hasn’t he already been secured on a new deal? That may well have something to do with his age. Fernandez, “recharging” on holiday with his family, and looking forward to “better things”, turned 32 earlier this year, and this contract is arguably the most important of his career.
Also, given his form for Newcastle over the past three years, Fernandez will have other options, so the deal must be right for him as well as a club which, focused on resale value, has often been reluctant to sign players in their 30s.
Fernandez – who made his league debut for Argentinian club Estudiantes almost 13 years ago – is at his peak.
Bruce was reluctant to say too much about Fernandez, laid low by Covid-19 late last year, when asked about the former Argentina international’s contractual situation last season.
Many supporters have had their say on social media. They want Fernandez to stay, and they can only hope they’re watching him next season when they return to St James’s Park.