NEWCASTLE United will let Danny Simpson and Leon Best leave this summer.
The Journal understands that the club have grown tired of Simpson’s protracted contract negotiations and will allow him to depart in the close season if their valuation of the right-back is met.
And Best – who has dropped down the pecking order since the arrival of Papiss Cisse – will also be made available for transfer.
The striker has grown frustrated at his lack of game time and has still not played a minute of football since recovering from the serious ankle injury he picked up in early February.
Both have been part of the squad since the Championship promotion season, but United illustrated last summer that they are prepared to be ruthless in their bid to keep progressing.
And both would represent high-profile casualties in any summer reshuffle that Alan Pardew oversees.
Simpson (right) insists he wants to stay at Newcastle but is understood to be looking for better terms than the £25,000-a-week final offer that United have tabled to him.
Tellingly, The Journal understands the defender recently changed agents in a move designed to force a resolution to the long-running saga.
Newcastle believe they have made him a good offer, though, and are unlikely to increase the terms on the table. There have already been discussions at the top level about whether Davide Santon – primarily used as a left-back this season – would be capable of switching to the right of defence and contingency plans have been drawn up.
Similarly, it appears as if Best is surplus to requirements at St James’ Park.
Newcastle were involved in negotiations with Celtic on transfer deadline day and would be open to offers for the forward again this summer.
Aston Villa, who are looking to rebuild on a budget, are potential suitors for Republic of Ireland forward Best, who only has one
year left on his contract. Departures are inevitable this summer and Alan Smith and Peter Lovenkrands will not be offered new playing contracts at the end of the season.
Fraser Forster is wanted by Celtic in a transfer likely to generate transfer funds for Pardew to spend on new recruits. Danny Guthrie’s future is also up in the air, with the midfielder understood to have rejected a contract offer tabled by United.
He is also wanted by Aston Villa and Premier League newcomers Reading, who would be able to offer him the first-team football he cannot be guaranteed at St James’ Park.
Regardless of the European competition Newcastle qualify for, a summer of squad strengthening will take place – but if Europa League football is secured it is unlikely to deviate from the business model that has brought Mike Ashley success so far.
Indeed Pardew has already stated that he will look to young professionals like Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic and Shane Ferguson to step up and play more first-team football next season.
United are in the process of recruiting virtually an entire reserve team this summer and are running the rule over a crop of European and British-based stars.
The Journal understands that they are interested in Lucerne’s 18-year-old defender Valentin Gjokaj, who has travelled to Newcastle this week.
The Swiss-born stopper has played mainly for the club’s reserve side this season, and would join the development squad being put together by United.
As revealed earlier this week, Marseille’s France under-19 defender Christophe Lowinsky has also been on trial at United’s Benton base.
Newcastle are set to confirm the capture of 22-year-old French midfielder Romain Amalfitano when the European transfer window opens on July 1.