Lee Charnley must secure a new contract for Federico Fernandez after Steve Bruce stated that discussions will be held with the Newcastle United defender.
Via quotes by The Shields Gazette, the Magpies boss has addressed Fernandez’s uncertain future with his current deal set to expire in the summer.
The Argentine is still on the same £47,000-per-week terms penned upon his last-ditch £6m arrival from Swansea City in 2018, having extended his stay by a further 12-months last March due to a one-year option in his deal.
Bruce was delighted to have gotten the clause activated and repaid Fernandez’s commitment by starting the 32-year-old in 16 of Newcastle’s initial 17 Premier League games, before he developed a calf injury a month after contracting coronavirus.
Fernandez returned to action in this month’s 2-1 win at Burnley, and Bruce now expects to see the North East giants open negotiations with their £2.5m-rated titan over extending his stay into at least a fourth campaign.
“There’s going to be discussions. To be fair, we’ve all concentrated on one thing at the moment, getting results,” the Toon boss said. “Feddy was another one badly, badly infected with Covid. Then got an awful calf strain, so you take Feddy, and how much he’s missed, the skipper [Jamaal Lascelles], Fab Schar, Callum [Wilson] … our big players, who you rely on.
“We’ve been without them too long. I’ve said time and time again, especially to you guys [the media], if we’re right, we’re fit, we’ve got our best players available, then we’ll be OK. Without them, it becomes a struggle. It’s good to see him [Fernandez] back playing.”
Rafa Benitez courted Fernandez heavily in 2018 when he sought to be reunited with his former Napoli enforcer due to a shortage of centre-backs at St. James’ Park, and struck a deal with just hours remaining of the summer market.
Fernandez struggled with injuries and to regain his place in the Toon backline during his sole year under Benitez, despite the Spaniard considering him as his “best defender”, but proved to be a fixture of Bruce’s plans last season and again when fit this term.
He may not have been at his best on Saturday as Newcastle beat Champions League-chasing West Ham United, but Fernandez has been one of Bruce’s more consistent centre-back options across the Premier League campaign.
Of the four players that Bruce has fielded in the heart of his Magpies backline on more than four occasions in the top-flight this term, Fernandez has achieved the second-best average WhoScored match rating at 6.64 to Ciaran Clark’s 6.73 out of 10.
The 32-cap Argentina international – who has captained Newcastle five times this term – has also averaged the highest number of successful tackles per league game by United’s centre-halves with 1.6 from a unit-high 1.8 attempts, makes the most clearances (5.9) and puts his body on the line with the most shots blocked (1.3).
Bruce would no doubt rue the Tyneside outfit if Fernandez were to leave on a free transfer this summer, making it a necessity for their Managing Director Charnley to secure a new contract for the soon-to-be free agent before it is too late.