Eddie Howe has admitted that star midfielder Joelinton could be sold this summer as Newcastle wrestle with financial restrictions.
The Magpies have spent the last week resisting overtures from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for England full-back Kieran Trippier, while strikers Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron have also been linked with moves away from Tyneside after chief executive Darren Eales revealed that the club might have to trade players to comply with Premier League profit and sustainability rules.
Negotiations over a contract extension for Joelinton, who has 18 months remaining on his existing deal, have stalled, prompting suggestions the £40million Brazilian may have played his last game for the club after undergoing surgery which will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Asked if that could prove the case, head coach Howe replied: “I’m not a fortune-teller and I certainly hope that is not the case. There is a possibility that could be the case, but I don’t know.
“Eighteen months [left on a contract] is a vulnerable time for a club. The club will need to tie Joe down to a longer-term contract or there is a possibility he will be sold in the summer. That is just the reality of the situation.”
However, Howe added: “As his manager, I’m determined for him to stay. I love him as a person and a player, so that would be my wish, for him to sign a long-term contract.
“But of course there’s more to it than that. There’s Joe’s wishes and what he wants. Before he signs a contract he has to be entirely happy with everything. We’re not at that stage yet.”
Howe would have much preferred to have spent his club’s mid-winter break fully concentrating on Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round trip to Fulham, but in the event, found himself fending off approaches for players he regards as key components of his squad.
To his relief – to date, at least – the club’s owners, who met in Alnwick on Thursday evening to discuss the way forward – have resisted moves for England duo Trippier and Wilson, while Paraguay international Almiron’s situation remains similarly unchanged.
Trippier’s future in particular has been under scrutiny with Bayern having tabled a a loan bid and two cash offers before apparently abandoning their interest after receiving no encouragement.
Howe said: “We’ve had a lot of conversations in the last week and it’s always been about Newcastle, and I think it was very important that I made that clear and got that out there to everybody, that his commitment to Newcastle shouldn’t be questioned.”
On Wilson, who was wanted on loan by Atletico Madrid and has since been linked with Chelsea and West Ham despite currently being out of action with a calf injury, he added: “When you look, we have two strikers and one of them is injured, so we have one fit striker. It doesn’t make sense.”
Howe, who confirmed Newcastle had ended their interest in a loan deal for Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips for “financial reasons”, also admitted the club is not close to making a signing this month and may ultimately do no business despite Joelinton’s unavailability.