Joey Barton's agent has revealed his client will not be offered a new contract by Newcastle when it expires next year.
The 28-year-old midfielder has been one of the stars of the Magpies' successful Barclays Premier League campaign and his retention beyond the final year of his existing deal has been one of manager Alan Pardew's key priorities.
But Barton's agent Willie McKay today told Sky Sports: "I had a meeting with Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias and club secretary Lee Charnley and they have indicated Joey will not be offered a new contract."
McKay added: "Joey will continue to be a Newcastle player next season and then he will leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract. He would have loved to have extended his stay at Newcastle, but unfortunately it is not to be.
"Joey has loved his time at Newcastle and nothing will change his commitment for the club next season. Obviously we will be monitoring the situation next January to try and find a new club for Joey as he can speak to clubs from abroad in January."
The news will come as a massive blow to fans who had hoped to see Barton, skipper Kevin Nolan and Spanish full-back Jose Enrique commit their futures to the club to maintain the foundation they have established back in the top flight.
Barton was understood to be close to extending his stay at St James' Park in January when the bombshell of Andy Carroll's departure for Liverpool dropped. Talks were put on hold until the end of the season with the player later indicating that he would be happy to stay if Nolan also put pen to paper on a new deal.
But with Enrique seemingly heading for the exit door this summer, Barton's situation will pile further pressure on Pardew, who had hoped to resolve the outstanding contractual situations before concentrating on his summer recruitment plans.
Barton joined the Magpies from Manchester City for £5.8million during the summer of 2007 as then manager Sam Allardyce took a gamble on him following his infamous training ground bust-up with Ousmane Dabo.
Following further problems both on and off the field, including a spell in prison, the Tyneside faithful finally saw Barton back at his best last term as he helped to inspire a more than creditable first season back in the Premier League.