The contract dilemmas facing Newcastle United and Eddie Howe - with three players’ futures in doubt

Fabian Schar, Paul Dummett and Sean Longstaff are out of contract at Newcastle United this summer.

Newcastle United’s focus is squarely on attracting new signings this month - but they will have to be guarded against possible departures.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to the first-team players who are set to see their contracts expire in the summer, as they can now be approached by overseas clubs.

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So what does that mean for Newcastle United, and what are their options in January?

The contract situation

As is the case with players at any club, the final six months of a contract present some interesting dilemmas for their current employers.

For it is at this point that pre-contract agreements can be made with overseas clubs, as per the famous Bosman ruling of 1995.

This means the player in question will agree to join a club on a free transfer as soon as their deal expires in the summer.

This, of course, works both ways though.

While it could see Newcastle susceptible to some approaches for their soon-to-be out of contract players, they too can approach players from overseas clubs in the hopes of securing a pre-contract agreement should they so desire.

It’s important to note that pre-contract agreements that would involve a player registered with an English club and transferring to another English club cannot be made until one month before the individual’s contract expires.

So at present, it’s only approaches from overseas that Newcastle will need to be wary of.

Who does this affect at Newcastle United?

There are three senior players whose contracts are set to expire at St James’ Park in the next six months - Fabian Schar, Paul Dummett and Sean Longstaff.

The former pair both had options on their existing deals exercised last summer, while Longstaff is set to see the four-year deal he penned in 2018 expire come the summer.

Longstaff has already been the subject of interest from Everton this month, while Schar was linked with the Bundesliga in the summer.

The dilemma now facing Eddie Howe

Howe’s current focus is on strengthening his squad ahead of the second half of the Premier League season with Newcastle still in a precarious position.

But there will come a time where decisions will have to be made on this trio.

Of course, there is no stipulation that such a decision needs to come during January. Newcastle can negotiate fresh terms with the trio at any point up until their current deals expire - provided they do not sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere in the interim.

However, if Howe does not see a future for any of the trio at the club then there could be a desire to try and secure a move - and with it, potentially a fee - in January.

That isn’t expected to happen in the short-term, with the Magpies’ boss not willing to part with any of his players until his own numbers grow, but it could be an interesting tangent to follow as the window progresses.