Mike Ashley must block Steve Bruce from awarding Dwight Gayle a new contract as the striker is stealing a living at Newcastle United.
Newcastle could be left with a daunting summer if too many of those walk out the door as replacements would have to be sought, making new deals a key order of business.
Bruce revealed last month that talks were still “ongoing” with Gayle, Andy Carroll, Jacob Murphy and Federico Fernandez over new terms, but no player is yet to put pen to paper.
Gayle’s situation has long been a point of focus for Bruce, with the United boss declaring in December that the club would “do everything we can” to keep him at St. James’ Park.
Gayle has only started two Premier League fixtures all season with opening calls against Chelsea and Aston Villa in the past five weeks, while left an unused substitute on seven occasions and missing 10 games through injury.
His uncertain future has already begun to attract interest with Galatasaray linked with a potential move to reunite the 31-year-old with DeAndre Yedlin, while clubs in Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also said to be monitoring developments.
Championship outfits are thought to be keen if Gayle hits the market for free, as well, which should be how the forward’s time on Tyneside meets its end.
Gayle has now been a Newcastle player for five years after joining the club in a £10m deal with Crystal Palace in 2016, but has rarely shown top-flight skill in black-and-white.
In 66 games over three Premier League seasons, Gayle has only struck 11 goals with six coming in the 2017/18 campaign and four last term.
His only goal of the current season came against West Bromwich Albion in December, in what was his first appearance of the term after entering the action as a second-half substitute.
For that goal to steal three points against the Baggies, the Toon have effectively paid just over £1m in wages, with it now 27 weeks since Newcastle’s season began with a 2-0 win at West Ham.
Gayle’s £40k-p/w contract also breaks down to £540,000 a start, £98,000 per appearance or £3,500 a minute in the Premier League this season, and the £4.5m-rated dud is set to make a further £560,000 with 14 weeks remaining on his current terms.
With all that in mind, Newcastle should scrub their hands of the London-born forward and look to go their separate ways, as Gayle – who reportedly stormed down the tunnel at the full-time whistle against Brighton on Saturday – would only continue to steal a living next season.