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The players out of contract

As we approach the end of the season, we have six first team players (not including Joe Willock) coming to the end of their contracts so let's have a look and see which ones are worthy of an extension.

First up, we have a player that has wasted five and a half years of his career on Tyneside and that is Henri Saivet, who has had three separate loan spells away from the club since joining in January 2016 and barely picked by Steve McClaren and Rafa Benitez with Steve Bruce clearly not interested either. Fair enough, he hasn't had the game time that he would've hoped for when he signed but surely he could've done what Achraf Lazaar did after we couldn't get rid of him in January and agree to have his deal terminated, making it easier for him to a find a club where he'd actually play. Whether we stay up or go down, I very much look forward to getting him off the books in the summer.

Another player that was left out of the Premier League squad and is also coming to the end of his contract is Christian Atsu. The Ghanaian was added back to the squad after DeAndre Yedlin's departure to Galatasaray left space for one more senior player but he was transfer listed in the summer so I can't see him featuring for us again. If we got relegated, he could be worth a year's extension for the Championship but even then, he's replaceable and if we go down, I would be giving Tom Allan a chance in the first team.

Decisions will need to be made on three centre-backs contracted to the club regardless of what league we are in. Ciaran Clark's contract was coming to an end but will most likely stay after signing a deserved two year extension in January and Jamaal Lascelles is captain so Steve Bruce will want to keep him if he is manager next season. Florian Lejeune has impressed out on loan at Deportivo Alavés and his deal expires next year so will probably leave unless we have a change of manager, Alavés are in relegation danger but I'm sure that another La Liga club could snap him up if they go down. Meanwhile, Fabian Schär and Federico Fernandez are out of contract soon but The Chronicle have suggested that we could activate a clause in Schär's deal for him to stay for another season and that Fernandez is in talks for an extension, which would most likely be also another year. I would keep them both.

As much as fans would be gutted to see Florian Lejeune leave, the Premier League squad rules mean that we can only have twenty-five senior players so unless we planned on playing five at the back more than four at the back, room should be made for other positions. If we go down, Kelland Watts should get a chance in the Championship, especially as there would be no limits on how many senior players we can have.

Dwight Gayle has been reported to have agreed a new three year extension with lesser wages, given his age and injury record, a three year extension seems very strange as does the possibility of him agreeing to take a pay cut. Andy Carroll is also out of contract soon and for me, both need to move on if we stay up and whilst they could do a job in the Championship (especially Gayle), we should look to get in a younger striker as either back up to Callum Wilson (should we stay up and he stays) or to help us to get out of the Championship.

The last senior player out of contract soon is Jacob Murphy, who I've wanted to see play over Kenedy when he under-performed in his second loan spell and Christian Atsu when he was under-performing last season. Having been out on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield Wednesday, he has done very well this season, beating academy graduate Dan Barlaser (who subsequently joined Rotherham United permanently after his loan spell there last season) to the final Premier League squad place. Regardless of what league we are in next season, I hope he gets a new deal.



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