Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has suggested that the Potters might not be in a position to offer Nick Powell a new contract until they can shift some high earners off the wage bill.
Powell has been arguable Stoke’s most influential performer this season and he has enjoyed an impressive campaign that has seen him chip in with 12 goals and three assists in his 36 Championship appearances. That level of form saw him attract interest during the January transfer window with Newcastle United reported to have made enquiries into his potential availability.
O’Neill had recently suggested that Powell was happy at the Bet365 Stadium and was enjoying his football and delivering consistent performances as a result. That suggested that there were hopes that he could be convinced to commit his long-term future to the club, with the 27-year-old currently seeing his contract run down at the end of the campaign.
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Speaking to Radio Stoke, via Stoke Sentinel, O’Neill suggested that the Potters might struggle financially to offer him the level of contract that he would need given they have a lot of other players who are out of favour that are on a lot of money.
He said: “It’s very difficult for us to do that at this minute in time because of the rules of FFP. We have players that are on contracts that are on contracts that are quite different to the players who have signed since I came to the club.
“We have to be mindful in terms of that and setting the bar for wages that we’re prepared to pay and able to pay. At this minute in time we’re not in a position to be able to extend contracts.
“We’ll look at the situation in the summer. Nick has a year to go and he obviously has had a very strong season. Those are the types of player you want to keep at the club.
“At the moment, as we are readjusting financially how we are as a club, it’s more difficult to have those conversations.”
This will be a major concern for the Potters with Powell’s future crucial to them building on the progress they have made this term and potentially challenging for promotion back to the Premier League next term. Keeping hold of the attacking midfielder seems to paramount to them being able to improve on a solid season and really mount a top-six push next time around.
However, you have to sympathise with O’Neill who is not able to command the same levels of financial backing that Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones enjoyed in their times at the club. The Potters are now having to cut their cloth a little bit financially to ensure they are sustainable within the Championship and do not gamble everything just to get back into the top-flight.
Were Powell to leave the club then there chances of getting promotion next term would decrease you would suggest. Therefore, within reason, you would argue that they should be trying all they can within their financial restraints to get the 27-year-old signed up to a new deal before other clubs circle during the summer.