This week two of Newcastle United's most influential dressing room personalities, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie signed contract extensions with the club. This is in addition to the new deal our player of the season elect, Martin Dubravka signed shortly after this season began. It is always good news when players commit to Newcastle, whether it be youth prospects finding their feet in the Under 23's, or seasoned first team regulars. But with an influx of key players out of contract in the next six to eighteen months, we want more contract signing announcements!
Matty Longstaff's contract saga has been going on for far too long now. Everything that can be said about this, has been said on numerous occasions. It looked as if the talks had reached an impasse, but with both sides still keen to thrash out a deal, talks reportedly resumed last week. However, should the younger Longstaff leave for next to nothing this summer, it may well turn out to be the single worst piece of business in Newcastle United history. I think you will struggle to find any Newcastle fan who doesn't want to see Matty commit for the long haul.
Federico Fernandez is less urgent than you might think. His current deal is up at the end of the season, However it is now well known that the club have an option to extend that for another year. Fernandez has been consistently steady during his time at Newcastle. A textbook Rafa Benitez bargain buy from then relegated Swansea City, Fernandez always puts in a shift when called upon, and it seems he's now established himself as first choice centre-back alongside captain Jamaal Lascelles in the 4-2-3-1 formation. The likelihood here is that the club will exercise the option to extend and keep the Argentine for another season, then reassess next year, as Fernandez is the wrong side of thirty.
Javier Manquillo has become a relevation. When he signed, eyebrows were raised by some, others (myself included) had their heads in their hands. A player that never lived up to expectation, and all but unwanted by everyone. Manquillo's Newcastle career was undoubtedly going the same way, with falling behind DeAndre Yedlin and with the summer signing of Emil Krafth could well have spelled the end for Manquillo. However, through a combination of Krafth not cutting it in the Premier League, and a serious surge in Manquillo's form over the past twelve months, the pacey Spaniard has solidified the right-back/ right wing-back position as his own, with only injury keeping him out of the starting eleven. From being unwanted on arrival, it would now be a real shame to see Manquillo leave. The lad deserves a new deal, and with right back being a problem area for Newcastle over the years, the solution may have been under their nose the whole time!
Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot are both out of contract this summer. Elliot, is Newcastle's current longest serving player, arriving on Tyneside in 2011. The Irish international, always did a job when called upon, an excellent shot stopper. His time at the toon is coming to an end no doubt about it, but he has been a wonderful servant down the years.
Darlow is an underrated second choice goalkeeper, and this here lies a dilemma. Newcastle will want to keep prospect Freddie Woodman, who is out of contract in 2021, and has been in impressive form whilst on loan at Championship side Swansea City this season. My hope would be that Woodman is challenging Martin Dubravka for the number one shirt at Newcastle next season, leaving Darlow in purgatory. I believe Darlow would walk into any Championship sides first team, and I wouldn't be against him staying, but I would be more disappointed seeing Freddie Woodman leave, than I would Karl Darlow.
Another dilemma is hometown hero Andy Carroll. We all know the story, plagued by injuries, but a serious striker on his day. We've not seen the best of him since his return to the toon, and we may never see the best of him again, as it seems like a different injury appears every month. We all want to see a fully fit Carroll on the pitch in the black and white, and to be honest I can't imagine him playing anywhere else at this stage of his career. Another year on his current terms may not be a bad idea, but there can be no denying, the striking department at Newcastle United needs a major overhaul.
Isaac Hayden's contract currently expires in the summer of 2021. Hayden has come a long way since coming to the North-East, having joined from Arsenal after a season on loan at Hull under current Newcastle boss Steve Bruce. He was expected to leave the club in numerous transfer windows due to previous personal issues. Hayden is as honest professional as you will find, and is now keen to stay on Tyneside. Many fans believe Hayden is our number one central midfielder, and attention should be turned to securing the former Arsenal youngster down for his prime years. There is every chance we will see Isaac Hayden in an England shirt one day, if his form continues on an upward curve.