Federico Fernandez produced a defensive masterclass at Burnley on Sunday to prove that he deserves a new contract with Newcastle United.
Steve Bruce recalled the Argentine to his starting line-up at Turf Moor after losing captain Jamaal Lascelles, potentially for the rest of the season, with a fractured foot.
But the centre-back, who is currently due to leave St. James’ Park as a free agent once his terms expire in June, rarely looked a step out of place as he helped Newcastle to their first win in eight matches.
Fernandez stood strong in the face of an onslaught of crosses into Martin Dubravka’s area and kept a calm head to offer his Toon teammates an assuring presence, despite lacking total match fitness.
A calm head was precisely what Newcastle needed after Matej Vydra broke the deadlock as Fernandez’s composure and leadership kept United stable, when the elements were stacked to win at all costs after Fulham were beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday night.
It was not just leadership that Fernandez offered, either, as the 32-year-old made a joint game-high 10 clearances with Paul Dummett and blocked an out-right game-high three shots, per SofaScore.
Fernandez’s heroics ultimately set the foundations for Allan Saint-Maximin to come off the bench and dazzle his way into the Clarets half, tee up Jacob Murphy to equalise and soon fire home the would-be winning goal after a delightful run.
The game could have been out of reach for Newcastle before Saint-Maximin’s introduction had Fernandez struggled on his return, but he instead proved why the Tyneside outfit must present him with a new contract.
Sunday’s win was not the first time this season that Fernandez has played a key role in a spirited defensive showing, either, having impressed at the back as Newcastle held Liverpool to a draw in December.
Recent reports by Chronicle Live have claimed that the Magpies intend to offer Fernandez a new deal and that talks are currently underway, as the club look to tie up some of their soon-to-be free agents.
Another player believed to be in talks is Jacob Murphy, who Lee Ryder told The Everything is Black and White Podcast “Newcastle would be absolutely crazy not to give him a new deal” after another vital performance against Burnley.
But Murphy had already proven his worth to Newcastle and why the Toon would be “crazy” to let him leave in previous weeks, with his performances against Wolves, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur key examples of why he deserves a new deal.
Sunday’s win over Burnley was instead Fernandez’s latest showpiece as to why the £47,000-per-week titan deserves new terms, and why Newcastle need to wrap up negotiations.
AND in other news, Newcastle players have been backed to question the club’s “confusing” decision…