Mark Douglas, the Chronicle’s Football Publishing Editor, has tipped Newcastle United midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie for uncertain futures at St. James’ Park, with the Toon holding out on contract talks.
The pair were due to discuss extending their spells in the North East beyond their current terms along with Martin Dubravka and Isaac Hayden (Daily Mail), but now seem to have seen talks pushed back after the Magpies’ difficult start to life under head coach Steve Bruce.
Bruce had expressed a desire to secure the futures of the senior Newcastle figures following his arrival on Tyneside this summer, with the likes of Shelvey, Ritchie and Hayden out of contract in 2021.
The Chronicle’s Douglas still expects Hayden and 2022-free agent Dubravka to put pen to paper on new contracts soon, with both moving in the right direction after talks began following the closure of the summer transfer market.
Newcastle’s difficult start to the Premier League season has sparked a slight hesitation to agree deals with Ritchie and Shelvey, though, as just two wins achieved in eight games has placed the Magpies in a potential relegation scrap.
The prospect of falling into the Championship is a challenge in negations with 27-year-old Shelvey and 30-year-old Ritchie, as the Toon see their ages as an ‘added complication’ to matters.
Douglas now anticipates progress on new terms for the pair being slow, and likely dependent on how Newcastle’s fortunes fare going forward after the international break, with no announcement projected to be made ‘any time soon’.
There is, however, an ‘increased sense of urgency’ to tie Matty Longstaff down to a long-term contract with his current deal due to expire next summer, after the young midfielder made his Premier League debut against Manchester United when he scored the winning goal (TransferMarkt).
Longstaff’s representatives are expected to demand better terms than what they may have requested had Longstaff departed on loan for the season, but Douglas does not expect this to derail negotiations.
Given Shelvey and Ritchie’s positions as two of Newcastle’s highest earners on a reported £70,000-a-week and £45k-a/w respectively (Spotrac), it should come as no surprise to the St. James’ Park faithful that United would be reluctant to sign either to long-term contracts when Championship football is potentially in their future.
Shelvey has not been a regular of the first-team under Bruce, either, with the former Liverpool and Swansea City midfielder making as many league appearances thus far as he has been left watching on (TransferMarkt).
But Ritchie has proven himself to be a valuable asset in the past year through his ability to play at full-back as well as in his natural midfield role, and would certainly be deserving of an extended deal if Newcastle are still in the Premier League next season.
Life in the second-tier could make it impossible for the Magpies to plausibly agree to extend his lucrative terms, though, and may look at his contract expiring in 2021 and age as someone who could make way if they need to cull the wage bill.
Is Steve Bruce as bad as was made out to be when he was appointed?
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