COMMENT By Will Butcher

Newcastle must secure Yoann Gouffran’s future at St James’ Park before it is too late.

The 30-year-old’s current Toon deal is set to expire next summer, despite the Frenchman remaining central to Rafa Benitez’s Championship title challenge this season.

With non-English clubs allowed to speak to Gouffram on January 1 over a potential pre-contract agreement that would see the versatile attacker officially leave the Toon in the summer, Benitez must move quickly.

Newcastle’s number 20 has been in magnificent form this season, scoring four goals and turning provider on a further three occasions during his 18 league and cup outings this term.

Despite Benitez implementing a vigorous rotation policy on Tyneside, Gouffran has remained as one of his manager’s first name on the Newcastle team sheet.

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His ability to beat a man and unpredictability in the final third has seen him terrorise Championship defences, as the Toon remain top ahead of Brighton and Reading.

Keeping out the likes of on-loan Chelsea winger Christian Atsu, Gouffran has shone in black and white despite doubts surrounding his future under Benitez.

Moving from Ligue 1 giants Bordeaux, Gouffran signed for the Toon in January 2013 for a cut-price deal worth £1.4million.

Since then, the Caen youth star has made a total of 114 league and cup appearances for the Toon, finding the back of the net 16 separate times.

In other Newcastle news, Benitez has made this key Toon transfer move ahead of the January window.