STEVE BRUCE has expressed “concern” at Newcastle United’s failure to agree a new contract with Matty Longstaff - and urged the teenager to put his long-term career prospects ahead of any financial considerations.

Two key members of Newcastle’s first-team squad signed new contracts yesterday, with Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey agreeing three-year deals that commit them to Tyneside until 2023.

Federico Fernandez is set to trigger a one-year extension to his current deal that will keep him at St James’ Park next season, but despite a series of discussions that began last year, Magpies officials have been unable to reach an agreement with either of the Longstaff brothers.

The situation with Sean is less pressing as his contract is not due to expire for another two years, but Matty is due to become a free agent this summer and is understood to have rejected the offer which is currently on the table.

Further talks are planned, but with the Newcastle hierarchy extremely reluctant to amend the terms of their offer, which Bruce regards as “extremely fair”, the prospects of the youngest of the Longstaff brothers leaving at the end of the season continue to increase.

“Of course, it’s a concern,” admitted Bruce, ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League game at Southampton. “I just hope that he looks at it as a football decision. Ultimately, when you are 19, it is about how you look after you career, rather than anything else.

“I’m sure there are people in his ear, and distractions. I hope he just looks at it as a football career. At the end of the day, if you have a successful career, money will find you. That’s always been my philosophy on it.

“He’s a 19-year-old who has done very well. Tell me another 19-year-old who’s played in the Premier League this year? There’s not many. I’ve made big decisions around him and left people out to play him. I hope he finds a conclusion with the club, I really do. We all want him to stay, but players have this prerogative. Of course, it’s a concern, but we can only do what we can do.”

Matty became free to talk to prospective employers based overseas at the start of January, and both AC and Inter Milan have been credited with an interest in the North Shields-born 19-year-old in the Italian press.

A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a British teenager leaving the Premier League to try to secure regular first-team football overseas, but Jadon Sancho blazed something of a trail when he left England to join Borussia Dortmund and, just last week, Birmingham City’s 16-year-old sensation Jude Bellingham was reported to be tying up a summer move to the same German side.

Could Matty Longstaff make a similar decision?  His representatives will almost certainly have been assessing their overseas options, and there is every chance clubs on the continent would be willing to trump Newcastle’s current contract offer if they were to make a formal move in the next couple of months.

“They (foreign club) get them for peanuts,” said Bruce. “We know the system, the way it is. It will be interesting to see what effect Brexit has on it and what happens there, but of course we’ve seen the boy from Charlton, Joe Aribo, who moved cross-border (when he left the Valley to join Rangers) for next to nothing.

“Listen, he’s a Newcastle lad, a North Shields boy, and how great was it to see him making his debut? I hope he thinks about his career pathway rather than anything else at the moment – that’s what he should be focused on.

“I’ve talked to him about it, but you can’t be with someone 24 hours a day. All you can do is offer a bit of advice, but I’ve been in the game a long, long time. I hope we can reach an agreement, I really do. But it’s difficult, very difficult.”

Things proved somewhat easier in the case of Shelvey and Ritchie, with the experienced duo both agreeing to long-term extensions that will take them well into their 30s. Shelvey joined Newcastle in January 2016, with Ritchie following him to Tyneside six months later, and while they have been in and out of the starting line-up this season, they have developed into hugely-influential members of the first-team squad.

“We’re delighted,” said Bruce. “They’ve tied themselves up until 2023. They’ve been very good over the last few years for Newcastle, and thankfully there’s been a really good conclusion. They’re a big make-up of the team and we’re delighted they’ve committed their future.

“The nucleus of the team that got out of the Championship is still here today, and these two have been instrumental in the core group. I’m delighted they’ve committed their future.”

Shelvey has 130 appearances for the Magpies since joining from Swansea, and has remained with Newcastle despite being the subject of a number of outside approaches in the last couple of seasons, most notably from his boyhood club, West Ham.

“It feels like a home,” said Shelvey. “The people here, ever since I came to the club, have made me feel so welcome. I’ve had some good times and some bad times here, but it’s mainly good and it’s just an enjoyable place to come in and work, and the city in general has been really good for me.”