Newcastle are sleepwalking into a nightmare after Steve Bruce’s update on Federico Fernandez’s contract situation at St James’ Park.
The Argentine’s £45k-a-week contract comes to an end in the summer, and Bruce has admitted that a decision on him, and some of the Premier League club’s other out-of-contract stars, will only be dealt with when the season is over.
He said: “All of them decisions are obviously discussions to be had when the season’s done and dusted. We’re not done and dusted yet. There are difficult decisions to make, of course, at every football club, that’s part and parcel of it. Yes, we’ve got some big decisions to make.”
The Athletic’s Chris Waugh admitted that Fernandez has been a “huge miss” for the Magpies this season after Bruce’s update on his fitness earlier in April, and it’s no surprise given the impact and influence he holds at St James’ Park.
Named him as his player of the year for Newcastle in December 2020, Waugh said: “Allan Saint-Maximin is the Newcastle player with the most quality and has, on occasion, produced some match-defining moments. Callum Wilson, meanwhile, came close to being named player of the year, despite only joining Newcastle in September.
“However, Federico Fernandez, the immovable object at the heart of Newcastle’s defence, deserves this accolade due to his consistent excellence. He is never flashy, but the 31-year-old is one of the few dependable performers – goalkeepers Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow also made this imaginary shortlist – and embodies the admirable resilience of this side.
“He may not offer a highlight reel of pyrotechnics like Saint-Maximin, but Newcastle fans take just as much pleasure out of watching compilations of Fernandez’s tackles, headers, interceptions and blocks as they do their forwards’ goals.”
Letting someone like Fernandez, with his wealth of experience at St James’ Park (he’s played 78 times for the club), go would be a major nightmare for Bruce and one that he must surely avoid.
But with his revelation that contract talks will be put on hold until the end of the season, that just raises the prospect of the Argentine leaving on a free or other clubs coming in and swooping before the Magpies even get their act together.
It’s exactly why Bruce simply has to make a start on offering Fernandez a new deal at the club.