The big contract decisions facing Newcastle United this summer with eight players in final months of current deals
Newcastle United risk losing eight players in what could be a very interesting summer – for all the wrong reasons.
Whether it’s Steve Bruce, a potential new manager, Lee Charnley or maybe, just maybe, a new owner calling the shots, the Magpies have some big contract decisions to make.
We take a look at the players out-of-contract at the end of the season – who will stay and go?
The curious case of Dwight Gayle. Bruce insists he is a big fan of the striker, yet he’s only started him on two occasions in the Premier League this season, both coming as a ‘split striker’.
It just hasn’t worked and that’s no fault of Gayle’s. He’s a traditional fox in the box but instead is being asked to do most of his work outside it. It just doesn’t make sense.
If Newcastle remain in the Premier League, could Gayle be let go? Well, for starters, his wages could count against him.
There is an argument to say Gayle has never really had a run of games in the top-flight but 26 goals in 130 outings doesn’t exactly pull up any trees.
On the flip side, if the unthinkable does happen and United are relegated, then there isn’t a better striker out there.
His record of 59 goals – 32 during United’s promotion campaign in 2016/17 – in 100 second-tier matches speaks for itself.
You do have to question how the player is feeling though. Watching on from the sidelines when his head coach refuses to field a recognised striker must boil his blood.
Most Newcastle fans are torn on Andy Carroll. The big question is – does the 32-year-old still have something to offer?
He’s not the player of 10 years ago – he’s far from it – but he is an option Newcastle wouldn’t have without him.
It’s worth noting that Carroll has stayed fit all season too, which is usually unheard of, albeit he has spent most of the season as a benchwarmer.
Carroll bleeds black and white and the United dressing room would be a lot poorer in his absence. Surely another year wouldn’t hurt?
Last season’s loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday did Jacob Murphy the world of good but he has faced an uphill battle to fight his way into Bruce’s starting XI.
The perfect example of that has been his substitute appearances in the recent games against Wolves and Aston Villa.
Against Wolves, he set up a golden opportunity for Joelinton to win it. Against Villa, he hit the crossbar before assisting Jamaal Lascelles’ last-gasp equaliser.
What more does he need to do? There was a strong case to start him at Brighton and Hove Albion but he was still overlooked.
He’s certainly showed glimpses of real promise this campaign – but will it be enough to earn a new deal? The boyhood Newcastle fan is still only 26.
Not necessarily a contract decision as such but if – and if it’s a big if – Newcastle are to retain their Premier League status, there is a suggestion Willock could return next season.
The temporary switch to the North East is Willock’s first time being away from Arsenal, the club he joined aged four, and he’s adapted to his new surroundings reasonably well.
His debut goal against Southampton was impressive, the late run into the box added a different dimension to United’s attack but that hasn’t been a consistent theme.
As the team’s form under Bruce has regressed, so has Willock’s – so it’d be unfair to pile too much criticism on the youngster – but his energy levels and ability to get from box-to-box has provided a welcome option.
Even though his experience at Newcastle has turned into more of a character-building exercise, I think most Newcastle fans will agree, he’s got a lot more to offer.
This is a potential dilemma here for Newcastle.
If Championship football wasn’t a possibility next season, you could have put your house on Newcastle exercising the one-year option in his contract.
Do the Magpies activate the clause, take on the player’s wages in the second-tier then risk trying to offload him? Or do they just release him? Or do they keep him?
Despite currently being sidelined with a knee injury, it’d be no surprise to see Schar attract plenty of European interest this summer, regardless on the club’s league status.
The Argentine definitely warrants a new deal but there’s a case to be had on both sides.
Last summer would have made sense to negotiate a new deal but the option on the player’s contract was all that was taken up.
It is unlikely, given the defender’s age, Newcastle would offer the 32-year-old anything more than a two-year deal – and even that’s perhaps pushing it.
Will Fernandez see the value in signing up to that when he can probably get a longer-term contract still on decent wages elsewhere?
Mohammed Diame didn’t, remember. It all feels a little too similar for some reason.
Christian Atsu & Henri Saivet
With both players all-but certain to leave this summer, we’ve combined the two into one, although that’s probably a little harsh on Christian Atsu.
Atsu can walk away from St James’s Park with his head held high with 121 United appearances to his name.
The Ghanaian was re-added to Bruce’s 25-man Premier League squad in January but that was nothing more than just to make up the numbers.
Saivet… well the less said about him the better, despite that belting free-kick at West Ham away in December 2017. Eight appearances in five years.