According to Chronicle Live journalist Ciaran Kelly, Newcastle United are willing to extend the contract of four key players in the squad. Martin Dubravka is already closing in on a new deal while the club have also identified Fabian Schar, Matt Ritchie and Isaac Hayden as the backbone of the team. But, do each of these players deserve new contracts?
Dubravka has been a revelation at St. James’ Park since joining the club from Sparta Praha at the start of last year. He quickly became the club’s number one choice in between the sticks, putting in a host of heroic displays to help the Magpies maintain their Premier League status during the 2017/18 campaign.
The Slovakian wasn’t as influential last season, and following the departure of Rafael Benitez, there were suggestions that he might leave the club in the summer. However, he ended up staying at Newcastle and has performed really well this season even though the Magpies are dawdling at the bottom end of the table.
Dubravka is the undisputed number one at Newcastle and certainly deserves a long-term contract.
Schar’s rise to prominence at Newcastle took place during the backend of last season when the club was facing an injury crisis in the defensive department. The Swiss international stepped up to the plate and provided a series of excellent performances while scoring one of the goals of the season against Burnley.
As a result, Schar became a first-team regular for Newcastle United this season. He also regained his place in the Swiss national side. And with the Tyneside outfit struggling to collect points, Schar’s defensive qualities and commitment could be useful for the club going forward. Hence, Newcastle must tie down the defender to a long-term contract.
Matt Ritchie has been the only real spark in the Newcastle attack in recent years. His incredible work-ethic and aggression has served the club quite well, especially under Benitez. Furthermore, the ex-Bournemouth star is known for his incredible versatility.
He has been utilised in various role throughout his Newcastle career, including the left-back slot. And he didn’t disappoint either. It is, therefore, fair to say that Ritchie is the most important piece of the puzzle in the current Newcastle squad and ensuring his long-term future at the club would be a smart move by the Magpies.
Isaac Hayden was initially identified as a fringe player by Benitez before the midfielder made his mark at Newcastle last season. He has now become a first-team regular for the club, featuring in all five matches this campaign.
Hayden’s aggression and work ethic have made him a better fit at Newcastle than the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame. He was, however, linked with a move away from Tyneside in the summer and securing a contract extension would be relatively difficult.
It will be interesting to see if West Ham United rekindle their interest in the former Arsenal academy in the upcoming January transfer window.