Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has warned Nathaniel Clyne that he has just 38 days to sign a new contract at St Mary's, as the want-away defender continues to stall on making a decision over his future.
The England international has been heavily linked with a move away from the south coast this summer, after attracting admiring glances from a host of rival Premier League suitors including Manchester United and Chelsea.
Clyne has become one of the most consistent right-backs in all of England's top-flight, and his impressive form has resulted in a breakthrough to Roy Hodgson's Three Lions squad.
With just over 12 months remaining on the four-year deal that the 24-year-old agreed when he joined from Crystal Palace in 2012, Saints are in a precarious position when it comes to the full-back's future.
Failure to negotiate a new and improved deal will almost certainly result in Clyne leaving the club in the forthcoming transfer window, as Southampton look to avoid losing the player on a Bosman free transfer upon the expiry of his existing contract.
Koeman has consistently made clear his desire to keep the talented youngster, but accepts that with interest from bigger and more illustrious sides he now faces a serious fight to convince the defender to sign.
In an attempt to push the ongoing negotiations along, the former Feyenoord head coach has issued something of an ultimatum after insisting that a decision - whatever that might be - needs to be made before the end of the season.
Saints travel to the Etihad Stadium to face reigning champions Manchester City on the final day of the 2014/15 campaign on May 24.
"We are talking to Clyne and his agent. We can't wait until the end of the season," the 52-year-old told BBC Radio Solent.
"It's not like we need to know today or tomorrow but we are talking to them and we will try to do everything to keep the player but you need both parties for that."
Southampton will need time to find a suitable replacement on the right side of the stingiest defence in the division, and in reality are probably already planning for Clyne's prospective departure while the current stand-off continues.
The latest development will be music to the ears of Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal, who looks increasingly likely to lure the player to Old Trafford.
According to well-connected Mirror journalist David McDonnell, Manchester United have already agreed a deal in principle that will see Clyne follow former Saints team-mate Luke Shaw to the Theatre of Dreams.
However, Jose Mourinho could still try to hijack the move at the last minute, as reports linking the Blues with the marauding full-back won't go away, despite the stronger competition for places in west London in Clyne's specialist position.
Where do you think Nathaniel Clyne will be playing his football next season? Is Ronald Koeman right to give the in-demand star a contract ultimatum? Have your say below…
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