The negotiations around Parramatta captain Clint Guthersons new Eels contract are once again threatening to implode publicly.
Fox Sports has been told Guthersons agent Sam Ayoub was left fuming at Parramattas initial offer to the blue and gold fullback to the point where the long-time player manager told the Eels they had embarrassed themselves.
Ayoub is then alleged to have walked out of the meeting at a cafe with Parramatta football staff including CEO Jim Sarantinos, general manager of football Mark ONeill and head of recruitment Ben Rogers back in May.
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Both Ayoub and the Eels are attempting to distance themselves from the latest contract standoff around Guthersons new deal after an ugly public feud surrounding the Parramatta skippers last round of negotiations.
Fox Sports has been told the Eels indicated they intended to offer Gutherson a slight increase on the $750,000-a-season he is currently on.
There have also been ill-informed and inaccurate reports suggesting Ayoub told figures within the NRL he intends to tell the Eels Guthersons new contract asking price is $1 million per season.
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This is false.
Parramatta captain Gutherson is off contract at the end of 2022 and under the NRLs current contract rules rival clubs are free to table him formal offers from November 1.
The problem for the Eels is the club also has a host of big-name players coming off contract at the same time with Blues Origin prop Junior Paulo, gun hooker Reed Mahoney, rookie five-eighth Dylan Brown, backrower Ryan Matterson and buy of 2021 Isaiah Papalii all off contract at the end of 2022.
In the case of five-eighth Brown he has an option in his contract in his favour for 2023 but rival clubs are already circling the Eels young gun.
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The other big issue for Parramatta is the last thing the club needs during its current form slump leading into the finals is another public contract blow-up about skipper Gutherson.
During Guthersons last round of negotiations in 2019, the Eels initially low balled the captain with an insult offer of around $425,000 per season.
There was then a public campaign mounted raising questions about Gutherson having a suspect knee after an ACL reconstruction.
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Ultimately, the Eels saw the error of their ways and ended up giving Gutherson a three-year deal including representative bonuses valued at around the $2.2 million mark.
The clock is ticking on how the Eels handle the clubs next move.
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