With his current contract coming to an end this summer, it looks as though Shola Ameobi could well be about to end a career at Newcastle that has stretched nearly 20 years.
Following Steve Harper’s departure last year, the 32-year old took the mantle as Newcastle’s longest-serving player, although Ameobi has become a similar sort of figure as Harper: a loyal player who has become more of a mascot than a meaningful member of the squad.
With a goal-scoring record that has seen him drift further from the thoughts of those who bet on football, Ameobi’s considerable work-rate does not appear to be enough for the experienced forward to establish himself in Alan Pardew’s plans this season.
The striker’s last Newcastle start came in the dismal 3-0 defeat to Sunderland at the beginning of February, and younger brother, Sammy, has climbed above Shola in the pecking order in recent weeks, starting ahead of the Nigeria international in the defeats against Chelsea and Tottenham – neither result a surprise to the football betting markets.
While no confirmation has been made regarding the striker’s future beyond this summer, Ameobi has admitted he feels he could be forced to accept his time at St James’ Park is coming to an end.
“After the summer, my future is unclear. Basically, I’ll do what I’ve always done. Like I’ve always said, I’ve never taken it (playing for Newcastle) for granted. Every time I step on that pitch, I relish it.
“When it does finally end, it’ll be a sad moment, but at the moment my focus is trying to help this club. That’s what I’ve always tried to do, and that will never change.”
While his service to the club over a difficult period in its history shouldn’t be underestimated, now is the time to say, “thanks Shola, but this relationship isn’t doing anything for us any more.”