JONÁS Gutiérrez is desperately hoping his unique relationship with José Enrique is not about to enter its final days.
Gutiérrez regards the left-back as a Spain international of the not-too distant future, and one of the four best in that position in the Premier League.
With Enrique (right) stalling on the offer of a new contract, there is a very real possibility Sunday’s game at home to West Bromwich Albion will be the 25-year-old’s last for the Magpies. Liverpool, Bayern Munich and AC Milan are some of the clubs thought to be considering an approach.
The “Three Amigos” of Enrique, Gutiérrez and fellow Argentinian Fabricio Coloccini are extremely close on and off the field, a triumvirate the left-winger is anxious to see kept in tact for personal and professional reasons.
“It is very important for me to have those guys around me, more outside the pitch than on the pitch,” he said.
“But on the pitch, what I have down the left side with José is something no other Premier League team has. It is a very special relationship. We have an amazing understanding, almost telepathic. Having José playing the way he does is brilliant for me and because we get on so well, we know what each other is thinking.”
Like most modern full-backs, the Spaniard poses a potent attacking threat, while Gutiérrez is comfortable defensively, as he proved by playing right-back for Argentina at the last World Cup.
Enrique’s contract does not expire until next summer, and so he cannot leave without the club’s say-so. But
having paid £6.5m for him four years ago, owner Mike Ashley would be reluctant to lose such a coveted player for free.
Enrique harbours international ambitions which would be enhanced by the regular European football the Magpies are currently unable to offer.
Although breaking into Spain’s team is no easy task, Gutiérrez believes it is something one of the “best players” he has played with can achieve sooner rather than later.
“He is one of the best left-backs in the Premier League, right up there with (Ashley) Cole, (Patrice) Evra and (Gaël) Clichy,” he commented.
“He is only young so is going to get even stronger.
“As long as he keeps thinking he has to learn more and more, there is every chance he will be in the Spanish national team very soon. He has all the qualities to be there, just needs to fine-tune his game.”
Enrique has played for Spain at under-16, under-20 and under-21 level.
If the world and European champions have such a thing as a weak point, it is left-back – one of very few positions not filled by a Barcelona or Real Madrid player.
“(Villarreal’s Joan) Capdevila is quite a bit older (33) so there will need to be someone to fill his boots,” added Gutiérrez.
“José Enrique is quick and clever, he has all the qualities to do it.
“He is one of the best players I have played with. I have been lucky because I have played with left-backs like Fernando Navarro, who also played for Spain, and Gabriel Heinze for Argentina. They are all different types but all very good.”
Meanwhile, Neil Lennon has confirmed he will look to bring Fraser Forster back to Celtic Park next season.
The Hexham-born goalkeeper’s record 23 clean sheets have helped Celtic to what could be a trophy double if he keeps another in Saturday’s Scottish FA Cup final during his season-long loan from Newcastle.
“Fraser has been magnificent this season,” said the Celtic manager.
“We will certainly look at that as an option for next season. We haven’t spoken to Newcastle yet, but there may be inroads made.
“Whether Newcastle want to sell or do business with us is another thing. We haven’t asked the question yet.”