ALAN Pardew has warned that Newcastle United must get back into Europe if they are to keep hold of their biggest stars.
Jose Enrique looks set to quit St James’s Park after admitting to Magpies boss Pardew that he wants to play Champions League football.
And the United chief knows that other ambitious players in his squad will be looking to move on as well unless the club can give them a suitable stage to perform on.
United have made Enrique a “lucrative offer” which would place him among the top earners at St James’s Park, but the defender – who has a year left on his contract – is holding out to see which clubs come in for him.
Pardew said: “We have got to become more competitive as a football club so players like Jose don’t want to leave.
“He has Champions League aspirations, and he is waiting to see whether anyone who has qualified for that competition is willing to come in for him.
“That is his right, and there isn’t much more we can do about it.
“We have tried as hard as we can, in the financial situation we are in, to keep him. We offered him an excellent deal, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in signing it at the moment.
“It is frustrating – but that is the situation we are in.
“It is up to him, but he wants to see what else there is for him.
“Unless we can become more competitive, finish in the top eight in the Premier League and, eventually, qualify for Europe, this will keep on happening.
“It is extremely hard to keep hold of your best players without that status.
“In the next two or three years we have to get back into that sort of position and then we can keep the best players and attract even better ones.
“That is the challenge we have ahead of us. I don’t want to be in a position as manager where this keeps happening year after year – so we have to progress, and we have to improve.”