Joey Barton says a new contract for Bristol Rovers captain Luke Leahy is “95 per cent” done, but an agreement is yet to be reached.
The 28-year-old left-back is out of contract at the end of a season where he has been Rovers’ leading scorer with 10 goals, and Barton is eager for Leahy to stay as the Gas look to rebuild after relegation to League Two.
The player, who has been with the club for two seasons and made 84 appearances, has been offered a new one-year deal and talks involving CEO Martyn Starnes, director of football Tommy Widdrington and Leahy’s representatives have been ongoing for several weeks.
An agreement is yet to be struck, but Barton remains optimistic Leahy will be playing in the blue and white quarters next season.
“He still hasn’t signed yet, so we’re hoping to get that over the line,” the manager said.
“That contract side of it is not what I do, my job is to coach the players and give recommendations. I haven’t really meddled in that and I was told it was getting done.
“Myself and (owner) Wael (Al-Qadi), we’ve spoken about the figures involved and we’re both in agreement, so it’s a case of Luke and his agent and the people at the club in that space.
“I think we’re not a million miles away, but also in our game if it’s not signed you are a million miles away. There’s lots of times you get gazumped.
“Luke’s been superb and he’s captained the team since I came in. He’s been a really good leader in the dressing room.
“I’m hopeful, really hopeful that Luke gets done, but, at this moment in time as I sit here today, it isn’t signed.
“I’m not going to give up hope. It’s about 95 per cent of the way there from what I’m hearing, but that other five per cent is a long, long distance in football terms. We’ve just got to hope that gets done.”
Leahy has 10 goals and three assists to his name across 41 games in all competitions this season, rising from the bottom of the pecking order when Ben Garner was in charge to the captaincy under Barton’s stewardship.
The manager is not desperate, though, insisting he only wants Leahy at the club if the player wants to be a part of the rebuild. Barton has previously said Leahy is keen to extend his spell at the Mem.
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“I think that will get resolved, but for me if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” Barton continued.
“I only want people here that want to be here and we’re going to build a really good football team next year and the people are here are here.
“I only want players who want to pull the quarters on, get their hands dirty and understand the task that we’ve got in front of us.”