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Newcastle United with fifteen contract decisions to make – Five of them pressing

2 months ago
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Some big contract decisions upcoming at Newcastle United.

As things stand, I make it that there are 34 ‘first team’ players contracted to the club.

With fifteen contract decisions to make (or already made), five of them pressing.

This is how the picture looks for Newcastle United, with the dates when current deals are set to end.

30 June 2021:

Christian Atsu, Andy Carroll, Federico Fernandez, Dwight Gayle, Jacob Murphy, Henri Saivet, Joe Willock

30 June 2022:

Paul Dummett, Florian Lejeune, Matty Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Yoshinori Muto, Fabian Schar, Elias Sorensen, Kelland Watts (and Steve Bruce…)

30 June 2023:

Ciaran Clark, Mark Gillespie, Emil Krafth, Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey, Freddie Woodman

30 June 2024:

Miguel Almiron, Elliot Anderson, Jeff Hendrick, Jamaal Lascelles, Javier Manquillo, Callum Wilson

30 June 2025:

Karl Darlow, Martin Dubravka, Ryan Fraser, Joelinton, Jamal Lewis

30 June 2026:

Isaac Hayden, Allan Saint-Maximin

As things stand, there are 27 players contracted for next season. However, when it comes to naming the Premier League 25 man squad, Elliot Anderson still qualifies as an Under 21 player and they can be used on top of the senior 25 man PL squad, so if he doesn’t go out on loan the 18 year old midfielder is a bonus (Rules on U21 players – Under-21 players are eligible over and above the limit of 25 players per squad. For the 2021/22 campaign Under-21 players will have been born on or after 1 January 2000).

Only three goalkeepers can be named in the PL 25 man squad and so long as Martin Dubravka remains number one next season, it is expected Freddie Woodman will once again be looking for regular football elsewhere, hopefully on loan once again and ideally at Swansea in the Premier League if they are promoted.

The seven who see their deals end in only 36 days time are: Christian Atsu, Andy Carroll, Federico Fernandez, Dwight Gayle, Jacob Murphy, Henri Saivet and Joe Willock.

Atsu and Saivet will of course be leaving, whilst whether Mike Ashley will allow any attempt at all to be made to sign Joe Willock is very much in doubt, never mind whether Arsenal would be willing to sell and then why would Willock himself come to Newcastle ahead of other more ambitious clubs who will undoubtedly also be trying to sign the goalscoring midfielder. On loan this season, Joe Willock qualified as an Under 21 player but if returning next season he’d not be.

There have been media claims that Dwight Gayle has not only had contract talks but signed a new three year deal, taking him up to end of June 24 and not long before he turns 34. No news at all from the club on this and it is a little difficult to believe / understand. Steve Bruce has only given Dwight Gayle four Premier League starts and 504 minutes in total this season, naming him on the bench 23 times. No starts at all in the final six weeks of the season and even when Callum Wilson got injured, Bruce would rather play Joelinton or no striker at all (no laughing please), as was the case on Sunday against Fulham. For the club, with Bruce having no interest at all in playing Gayle, the only way a new already signed contract would make any sense, would be to ensure Newcastle get a transfer fee if / when he is sold this summer. However, why then would the striker himself have signed such a deal if that’s the case, as he could command higher wages as a free agent? Like so much at Newcastle United, none of it makes any sense.

With Andy Carroll it is even more puzzling, despite only 382 PL minutes this season and only four starts (last one 18 January) and only five minutes in two brief sub appearances in the final two and a half months of the season, the media are claiming Carroll wants to stay.

Furthermore, despite having no interest in playing him, Steve Bruce has appeared to indicate he is interested in giving him a third contract, saying to BBC Newcastle last week:

“The good thing with Andy is he’s been injury free and only picked up a few niggles.

“His huge contribution for me has been in and around the dressing room, at the end of the day he’s been a huge presence and we saw that with the crowd even the reaction the other night.

“So Andy Carroll’s been Andy Carroll, he’ll always be a great Newcastle player. But as I’ve said I’ve just parked all these things.

“We decided that we were going to talk about everything at the end because of the situation we were in. We will have those conversations. But there’s no doubt Andy has been a great servant to me and the club in the last couple of years.”

Once again, the only way that giving Andy Carroll another contract, is if there is no chance of bringing in a striker who Steve Bruce would be interested in playing.

Federico Fernandez and Jacob Murphy are different matters.

Fernandez has been Newcastle’s best defender this season and although now 32, surely has to be offered a new deal and persuaded to stay.

Murphy has impressed at wing-back going forward but struggles at times when defending. It will be total incompetence if Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley have allowed a situation where Murphy now leaves for nothing as a free agent. With no real quality on that right side of defence and with little chance of funds being made available to bring in that quality (not that this would be assured if money was spent, considering how poor £15m Jamal Lewis has been so far), to tie Jacob Murphy down looks like something needing doing ASAP.

Looking at those who now have only a year to go on their deals – Paul Dummett, Florian Lejeune, Matty Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Yoshinori Muto, Fabian Schar, Elias Sorensen, Kelland Watts (and Steve Bruce…)

Difficult to see Sorensen and Watts in any way considered for the 25 man PL senior squad for 2021/22 and almost certainly needing to be looking for permanent moves elsewhere, Muto obviously also surplus to requirements.

The Longstaff brothers have been totally messed around by Steve Bruce so difficult to see either of them willing to tie themselves down longer, so will one or both of them be leaving this summer?

Dummett probably be happy to see out another year and see what happens, same from the club side, although no surprise if we see an extension for him even though the Geordie defender turns 30 in September.

Fabian Schar turns 30 in December and Florian Lejeune turned 30 on Thursday, interesting to see what happens with this pair.

Steve Bruce has shown an aversion to wanting to play centre-backs who play the ball out of defence, preferring the more no nonsense likes of Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett and Clark (to an extent). Lejeune has impressed this season in La Liga and along with Schar, could probably bring in a few quid if sold this summer.

However, for many fans, both Schar and Lejeune are players who could potentially help Newcastle play better football next season and at the same time improve results. Much talk though of a younger centre-back being added this summer and no surprise to me if Bruce decides to move these two out.

As for Steve Bruce only having one year left on his own deal, I’d have no complaints if the 60 year old looks elsewhere for the security of a longer contract…

Having said that, I really fear that the first contract news we do hear next will be Mike Ashley giving Brucey a big extended deal, the stuff of nightmares.

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