NEWCASTLE United will listen to offers for Jonás Gutiérrez as the radical revamp of their squad continues.
The arrival of French winger Sylvain Marveaux means another of the Magpies’ “Three Amigos” has big question marks over his St James’ Park future. And Leeds continue their pursuit of Alan Smith.
Getting rid of Joey Barton, though, could prove more difficult after the never less than controversial midfielder reiterated his desire to see out his contract.
The arrival of 25-year-old Marveaux, announced late on Friday, was the latest step in the changing of the Gallowgate guard.
Captain Kevin Nolan has left for West Ham, Barton’s fractious relationship with the club’s hierarchy is starting to look terminal, Leeds are looking to re-sign Smith and doubts have begun to emerge over the future of keeper Steve Harper. Thus, the player’s committee – so fundamental to bringing Newcastle back into the Premier League – appears to be being purged, and another influential group is also under attack.
With failed striker Xisco’s St James’ career effectively over, it is unclear how many of the Spanish speaking trio of José Enrique and Argentinians Gutiérrez (pictured left) and Fabricio Coloccini will wear black-and-white stripes next season.
Manager Alan Pardew is speaking openly of the possibility of left-back Enrique leaving, though to pretend otherwise would be delusional.
Enrique has been dodging attempts to discuss an extension to his contract, which expires in 12 months. With interest from some of the biggest names in European club football, Newcastle would
much rather cash in now than allow him to leave for free next year. “We are not confident we can keep him, but we are not scared of losing him,” Pardew said of Enrique.
They would also like to sell centre-back Coloccini, who performed impressively last season but earns around £80,000 a week. That is a serious deterrent to suitors such as Sevilla, and there are few signs the defender is prepared to take the big pay cut probably needed to facilitate a move.
However, isolating him by selling Enrique and Gutiérrez could help change his attitude.
Pardew has never seemed completely sold on Gutiérrez, a hard-working wide player who divides terrace opinion.
Marveaux’s arrival need not signal his departure – Gutiérrez could just as easily move onto the right wing to fill the gap which seems certain to be left by Barton some time in the next 12 months.
But like Barton, Smith, Enrique and Coloccini, he joined when Newcastle were much more generous with their wages, and owner Mike Ashley would not shed many tears were he taken off the payroll.
The Three Amigos seem likely to be victim of a French revolution which has seen Marveaux joined by fellow French speakers Mehdi Abeid, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba this summer. Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tioté and French playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa were already at the club.
Removing Barton could prove more troublesome. If his Twitter war on Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias looked like an attempt to force them to sell, he insisted last night it is not the case.
“Why do people take what is put in newspapers as gospel (?)” he tweeted. “(H)ope you understand this.... I don’t want to leave Newcastle” before adding the ominous hashtag “#bosmanruling”.
Smith seemingly has no part to play in the new-look set-up. He lost his place to Tioté early last season, and injuries further limited his appearances. At around £50,000 a week, he is an expensive back-up.
Leeds reportedly have plans to reunite three players from David O’Leary’s heyday, but Smith and former Newcastle players Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer have all got used to wages a Championship club cannot afford.
Although Woodgate and Bowyer are free agents, Leeds seem most optimistic Smith will join, relying on the pull of home for the only one of the trio born and bred in the city.
However, chairman Ken Bates has warned for a move to happen “he (Smith) would have to knock a nought off (his wages) and probably half it”. A loan, with Newcastle subsidising Smith’s wages, could be a potential solution.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s U15s lost 1-0 to Juventus yesterday in the Lion Cup Tournament in Singapore.