Are Nugent and Utaka In It For The Long Haul?
Or will they be moved on in January? In the summer of 2007 Portsmouth FC splashed out a combined £14 million to bring David Nugent and John Utaka to the club on four-year contracts.Those deals are now due to expire at the end of this season, so will either player sign a new contract on vastly reduced wages or will Chainrai cash in come January before they're allowed to leave for nothing in the summer?After looking out of their depth for one reason or another, it seems that both have found their level in the Championship and are enjoying their best spells of their careers since their move to Fratton Park.Nugent has scored five goals this season which isn't that many in truth, but he always works hard which always benefits his team mates who have found the net because of what Nugent is capable of.Utaka has only bagged the one goal this season but still remains an integral part of the team on the left wing due to his ability to open up defences with his pace and trickery.Should Pompey lose either player when the transfer market opens in 2011, then they would leave considerable gaps to fill. But could they be persuaded to stay?It was reported last week that Nugent had already begun initial contract talks with the hopes that he would stay on the south coast rather than move up north where he seems to be more comfortable.The sticking point, of course, will be the wages. Nugent is reported to be on over £30,000-a-week and will no doubt be reluctant to take a huge drop in wages when there will be other clubs who could offer him a better deal.The same could be said for Utaka but the situation for him could be different depending on how much he cares about his reputation in the game.For the first time in three years, Utaka isn't ridiculed by Pompey fans for being lazy and pathetic. He has changed his image dramatically from the man who was booed off at Coventry on the opening day.Steve Cotterill has managed to do what his predecessors couldn't by making Utaka work hard and track back to help defend. It has come as a shock but if I was the Pompey manager I'd be telling Utaka that it would be beneficial to him to stay at the club, keep rebuilding his reputation and play a massive part in our "promotion push".Selling the prospect of the Premier League and massaging Utaka's ego may be the only way to keep him at the club before he thinks about leaving for pastures new.On the other hand, I think Nugent just wants to feel important and wants enjoy playing football regularly, which is something that this club can provide for him so perhaps he'll stay if he can accept reduced wages.Still, this won't matter at all if our esteemed owner decides to cash in on our two valuable assets rather than risk losing them for nothing. They wouldn't command much of a fee given that there is less than a year left on their contracts but in his eyes it's still better than nothing.Perhaps this month will be extremely important in terms of results on the pitch. If Chainrai can be convinced that Portsmouth are capable of earning promotion then perhaps he won't ensure that Steve Cotterill loses two of his best players.The Premier League is the promised land of riches (if managed properly) and there is no doubt that the club would earn more through TV revenue than through the sales of two players near the end of their contracts. But will he take the risk?January is going to provide answers to many questions, that's for sure.
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