JONÁS Gutiérrez has become the first senior Newcastle United player to announce he wants to leave the club.
The Argentinian winger was not one of those who returned to Darsley Park yesterday for pre-season training, having been granted extra time off following his international commitments.
However, the 26-year-old has made it clear he does not plan to be part of the side which returns to Football League action after a 16-year absence against West Bromwich Albion on August 8.
Few of the Magpies squad relegated from the Premier League last term have made public any wish to leave. José Enríque sent out mixed messages and Michael Owen confirmed he would not return at the end of his contract, but Newcastle’s relegation meant he was never likely to be given the opportunity. Gutiérrez – a target for Fulham and Porto – has made his intentions clear, however.
The winger refused to reach a public decision until after last month’s World Cup qualifiers, but has now dismissed the prospect of playing in next season’s Championship, saying: “It is no dream of mine.”
With clubs starting to report back for pre-season training and many contracts – including those of Owen, Mark Viduka, Claudio Caçapa and David Edgar – expiring at midnight on Tuesday, the English transfer market is slowly gaining momentum. But Gutiérrez will have to wait a little longer before he can leave because there is no-one to ask for a move. The perennial caretaker manager Chris
Hughton took yesterday’s training, assisted by Colin Calderwood and fitness coaches Mark Hulse and Robbie Elliott, both of whom are working a month’s notice.
Alan Shearer, the last of many interim bosses last season, is expected to eventually be named the next permanent manager but, until then, one can expect few significant off-field decisions.
Owner Mike Ashley is hoping to conclude a sale of the club early next week but, with the winner of that contest yet to be decided, control cannot even be ceded to an owner-in-waiting.
Full-back Edgar became the first of United’s out-of-contract players to join a new club when he signed a four-year contract with Premier League newcomers Burnley yesterday.
The son of former Magpies goalkeeper Eddie made 11 league starts and two substitute appearances for Newcastle, scoring twice.Newcastle will be entitled to compensation because the defender is 22. The fee will be set by a tribunal if the clubs cannot reach agreement.
Gutiérrez is due to join up with what he hopes are will soon be his ex-team-mates next week when they head to Kildare for a week-long training camp before the July 11 match against Shamrock Rovers. Newcastle have gagged their players from speaking publicly until after the Shamrock game.
Meanwhile, Stoke City midfielder Seyi Olofinjana is delighted to see compatriot Obafemi Martins linked with a move to the Britannia Stadium.
The Nigerian said: “He is a very good striker who would certainly improve our attack. I hope he joins us.”
The start of Newcastle’s season will be delayed a couple of hours for television. The game against West Brom kicks off at 5.30 to open BBC1’s live Championship coverage. Of 10 live games the broadcaster is due to show next season, United will be involved in at least two. The September 26 trip to Ipswich Town is another, again kicking off at 5.30.
Blackpool have announced Newcastle’s trip to Bloomfield Road will be moved to September 16 – apparently to accommodate the previous weekend’s game at Cardiff City switching to Sunday lunchtime for Sky Sports, though this remains unconfirmed.