West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Mowbray will open negotiations with star player Zoltan Gera to try and persuade the Hungarian international to remain at The Hawthorns at least for next season.Related content
Gera is one of three first team regulars out of contract this summer, the others are leading scorer Kevin Phillips and defender Martin Albrechtsen, each of whom will be offered terms by Mowbray.
But the retention of Gera is perhaps more important than any other given his ability to not just create goals but score them too.
Ever since he joined Albion Gera has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move away and now he has led the team to promotion and his current deal has expired those rumours have only intensified.
But Mowbray will quickly turn his attention to securing the services of a player who has already played well in the Premier League during Albion’s last stint.
"He [Gera] intimated to me he wanted to get this season done and out of the way. That will start in earnest now," Mowbray said. "As I have said all along I think Zoltan and his advisers are looking to see what suitors he has got out there. Because we are in the age of the Bosman he is well within his rights to do that. If he decides that his future lies elsewhere I will shake him by the hand and wish him good luck."
But Mowbray hopes the fact Albion have gone up as champions - they secured their first league title for 88 years by beating Queens Park Rangers on Sunday - and the euphoria that surrounded that success may prove a powerful factor in the 29-year-old’s decision.
"I think the scenes on the pitch and in the dressing room will make it a tough decision if he ulitmately decides to leave our football club," the manager said.
"What I do know is we will endeavour as hard as we can to keep him at our club. The players respect and believe in him, the management team does and the supporters do as well. I would hope that he will stay but footballers are footballers and if somebody somewhere offers him something that is more suitable for him at this stage of his career, I wish him well."
Mowbray also outlined his intention to keep Phillips and Albrechtsen at the club: "It’s a similar situation, they are out of contract. They will decide their futures.
"We will make them offers we think are as fair as can be as to the balance of the squad and where we see them in that. The bottom line is it is up to their advisers. I can’t put a gun to their head and make them sign.
"This is a business but what I have tried to engineer in the club is a team spirit and a camaraderie and hopefully they want to be part of something and enjoy their football. Zoltan has got in double figures from midfield this season, Kevin once again has scored over 20 goals. I hope they appreciate they play in a team that supplies the ammunition for them and is good to play in.
"If they want to be a part of that then great, if they don’t there will be no falling out."