Bernars contract latest.
Crunch talks on future Nov 23 2004
By Luke Edwards, The Journal
Olivier Bernard's Newcastle United future could be resolved this week with the Frenchman issuing a final plea to be given the chance to stay.
Bernard's advisers will meet with Newcastle chairman Freddie Shepherd to make a last appeal for an improved contract offer after their initial extension was turned down in the summer.
The former Lyon defender, who has just eight months left on his current deal, has again insisted he has no desire to leave St James's Park.
But while he is desperate to play the prime years of his career on Tyneside he has warned he will be forced to leave if an acceptable offer is not made.
And the full-back, who is believed to be asking for more than £30,000 a week, has revealed he wants the club's board to recognise his status as a first team regular by making him one of the club's top 10 earners.
"I want to stay at Newcastle although I do not know if I will be here next season," explained a player whose performances for Newcastle have pushed him to the fringes of the French national squad.
"I must do what is best for me. This is my club, but sometimes you have to think about your own career.
"I believe in the chairman here. He is a good man and I hope he looks after me. I am not being greedy.
"I believe I deserve more because I was one of the best players in the Newcastle side last season. "Now I do not think I am in the top 10 earners at this club. That can't be right. I just want to be paid what I'm worth and where I should be."
Bernard almost left United two years ago when West Ham United tried to sign him on a free transfer only to find the 25-year-old's contract had another year to run.
Nevertheless, Bernard has gone on to establish himself as a key member of Newcastle's team, first under Sir Bobby Robson and now under Graeme Souness, who is keen to keep the attack-minded full back.
However, the club have been less than impressed with the attitude of the player's advisers over the dealings and have refused to be held to ransom by them.
But, it now seems as though both parties are keen to bring the matter to a close, with Bernard, while suggesting he knows other clubs are interested in signing him, declaring his wish to stay.
He said: "I'm 25 and should be approaching my peak. I want to have my best years at Newcastle.
"I'm ambitious and so long as this club matches those ambitions, in an ideal world, I would want to stay here. It would break my heart to leave here because I love it, I love the people and I love the area.
"I have told my agent to sort everything out. I do not want to be involved. I need to focus on my football.
"I know there are clubs elsewhere where I could get even more money than I am asking for. They are ready to sign me.
"I can't say who those clubs are, but they are abroad."
Meanwhile, Bernard is hoping his return to France to play Sochaux in the Uefa Cup on Thursday is a happier homecoming than last season semi-final against Marseille.
He said: "It is always good returning to your own country to play football, but I hope it is better than last time.
"I was so excited about the Marseille game last year but it was a very bad experience, one of the worst I have had here."
And a defender, who has made more than 100 appearances for the Magpies after a formative loan spell at Darlington, has warned Sochaux will be higher class opposition than both Greek outfit Panionios and Georgian cup winners Dinamo Tbilisi, who have already been comfortably beaten in this year's competition.