NEWCASTLE UNITED face a difficult January decision over Yoan Gouffran with French side Lille ready to offer the forward a two-and-a-half year deal.

Gouffran has been a surprise success in the opening three months of the season, establishing himself as a key part of Newcastle’s first team despite looking all-but-certain to leave the club earlier this summer.

The 30-year-old was heavily linked with a move to another Ligue 1 side, Lorient, but Rafael Benitez opted to keep him on Tyneside and he has started 12 of the Magpies’ last 13 league games.

However, his current contract is due to expire at the end of the season, and as things stand, there have been no discussions about a new deal at St James’ Park.

Ideally, Benitez would like to keep Gouffran for as long as possible as he has been impressed with the midfielder’s attitude and professionalism during his time in the North-East.

However, the Newcastle hierarchy have been extremely reluctant to offer long-term deals to players in their 30s, and there will be understandable concerns about Gouffran’s ability to handle the step back up to the Premier League if the Magpies are promoted next May.

That could create a problem if Lille renew their interest in Gouffran, with the French side having first made an inquiry about his potential availability last January.

Back then, Lille were willing to pay around €1m for Gouffran, but their interest did not prompt a formal offer.

Twelve months on, and Gouffran’s valuation will have decreased as he approaches the end of his contract, so sources in France claim Lille officials are more hopeful of being able to broker an acceptable deal when the transfer window reopens at the turn of the year.

While Lille, who are currently struggling in 17th position in Ligue 1, will be unable to match Gouffran’s current wage deal, they will hope the offer of a long-term contract is enough to tempt the former Bordeaux playmaker to leave Tyneside.

Gouffran displayed little desire to move on in the summer, but there was not a contract offer to 2018 on the table at that stage. Having worked diligently to force his way back into the first team, the Magpies midfielder will be reluctant to miss out on a potential promotion.

However, if he concludes his Newcastle career will be finishing next summer come what may, he might well decide that the security of a long-term deal in his homeland is something he wants to pursue.

Benitez has been told he does not have to sell any of his leading lights in January, but Gouffran’s contract situation means he is in a slightly different position to the vast majority of his team-mates.

Meanwhile, Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle has been shortlisted for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for October, having scored four goals in four appearances during the month.

Gayle has been nominated along with Gary Hooper, Massimo Luongo, Paul Gallagher, Peter Whittingham and Sam Baldock.