FULHAM are monitoring the long-running contract saga of Newcastle United defender Danny Simpson.
United are ready to cash in on Simpson after growing fed up of his reluctance to sign a new £25,000-a-week deal and although the player wants to see out the remaining year on his contract, Newcastle have begun circulating his name to fellow Premier League clubs.
And that has alerted the Cottagers, who are ready to offer Simpson an escape route by tabling a £2million offer.
The 25-year-old would ideally like to stay at St James’ Park but wants parity with other first-team regulars and has swapped agents in a bid to try and re-start contract negotiations. In an interview published yesterday he refuted claims of “greed”.
But there have been no talks for a couple of months and Alan Pardew was forthright in his views that Simpson may have to move on if he doesn’t accept the offer on the table.
That has prompted interest from several Premier League sides, with West Brom and Aston Villa also credited with an interest. But Villa’s change of manager means their interest may have cooled - leaving Fulham as the front-runners for Simpson’s signature.
Simpson said: “I’m not a greedy player and I just want to be on par with the other players around me. In football terms, what I’m asking for is by no means outrageous.
“I want to stay at this club and I’ve been saying that all season. I’ve recently had a baby, I’m happy here and so is my family. Hopefully me and the club can find some
solution. I want to stay but if I have to move, then I will accept it and move on.”
That is perhaps understandable but Simpson is popular in the dressing room and it could be regarded as a blow for Pardew to lose another of his English core.
Even though he knows he may lose him, the Newcastle manager has certainly been petitioning the defender to sign his new contract and would ideally like to move forward with Simpson as his first-choice right-back next term.
But United are investigating alternatives at right-back, with Magpies top brass looking at the possibility of switching Davide Santon from left-back and signing a versatile defender who can play in several positions.
They also have a long-standing interest in Lille defender Mathieu Debuchy and Crystal Palace’s Nathaniel Clyne, although his price tag might prove prohibitive.
If Santon was shifted then United could look to Erik Pieters as a possible alternative. The Holland left-back has been on United’s wanted list for more than two years – but he is injured at the moment.
Whatever happens, The Journal understands that the United boss has been told to fund some of his transfer purchases this summer.
Newcastle will announce their retained list early this week with Alan Smith (pictured above), Peter Løvenkrands and Danny Guthrie all set for the chop. Smith’s wages will give Pardew some freedom and a money-spinning trip to South Africa in July should also top up his transfer war chest. But other moves may have to be financed by selling players, with Leon Best also available for around £1.5million and Nile Ranger on offer for £250,000.
Meanwhile, Newcastle are set to add to their pre-season programme with a trip to South Wales to take on Cardiff on August 11.
United have already lined up a money-spinning trip to South Africa to play Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates before a high-profile friendly against Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. But reports in South Wales claim Newcastle have been offered the chance to play Malky Mackay’s Championship side, who were defeated in the semi-finals of the play-offs in the week before last.