Liga - Verdu wants Espanyol stay

Espanyol midfielder Joan Verdu wants to hold contract talks with the club but is being told to wait until the end of the season, according to his agent.

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Liga - Verdu rejects 'mercenary' accusation
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Joan Verdu has moved to Real Betis (AFP)

Verdu, 29, has scored 20 goals in 127 Liga matches since joining Espanyol from Deportivo in 2009 but – despite his current deal expiring in June – the Barcelona-based club are refusing to negotiate a new deal until their top-flight status is secured.

This has left one of the club’s prized assets in a quandary, but his representative believes talks could yet yield an amicable solution.

“He has ordered me to hold talks over a new contract as an absolute priority,” agent Magico Diaz told TV3 in Spain.

“The club’s directors feel they cannot currently offer similar wages to those available at bigger and foreign clubs, but you can always find creative solutions through discussion.

“Joan has absolutely not reached any type of agreement with any other club.”

Several other key Espanyol players are also out of contract this summer, including former Spain full-back Joan Capdevila, midfielder Raul Baena and goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez.

Winger Rui Fonte and defender Ernesto Galan are also out of contract at the end of the season, although the club are trying to offload them this transfer window.

Many Spanish clubs are feeling the pinch economically, with the country's TV deal unevenly distributed and heavily favouring the bigger clubs.

Most Segunda Division clubs, and many in the top flight, are in some form of administration regarding their ongoing debts, with Malaga the highest-profile casualty, having been banned from next season's European competitions due to their failure to pay wages on time.

It would appear Espanyol are trying to avoid being stuck with a high wage bill in the event of relegation, although they currently sit four points above the drop zone.

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