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Cardiff City chief issues update on contract negotiations of two key stars as complications emerge during crunch talks

Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman has revealed the club remain locked in crunch talks with Joe Bennett and Sol Bamba as time begins to run out for deals to be struck.

Bennett and Bamba have been at Cardiff for five years and have grown to become favourites among the fan base, but find themselves out of contract this summer.

One big-name player has already announced his departure from the club in the form of Junior Hoilett, who was brought in by Neil Warnock the same time as Bamba, with the club set to reveal their retained and released list imminently.

But there is a growing concern among Bennett’s supporters that the left back, who Dalman believes is the best in his position in the Championship, could leave upon the expiry of his contract this summer.

The 31- year-old was back to playing his best football under Mick McCarthy, having slotted seamlessly into that left wing-back role, but crumpled to the ground in agony after sustaining a knee injury in the 4-0 win over Derby back in March.

Having undergone surgery, the best prognosis seems to be that he will miss at least the first month of next season, but that timescale could be longer.

However, the player’s future remains up in the air, with a new contract having already been rejected by Bennett before his injury. Dalman insists they will continue their negotiations over the coming weeks.

“There are a number of players whose contracts are coming to an end,” Dalman told the BBC.

“Joe Bennett is one of them. We like Joe Bennett, he has been a great servant to the club.

“I actually think he is the best left-back in that league and he has been, I think, for the last couple of seasons – if not longer.

“Unfortunately, we tried to negotiate a deal with him, we couldn’t reach an agreement and then the injury happened.

“We have a duty of care and we continue to dialogue with Joe and see if we can find a solution.

“But if not, we don’t really have much choice. But we will continue to have that dialogue because we feel a sense of responsibility.”

While Joel Bagan is certainly a promising prospect, it is unlikely Cardiff will entrust him with an entire season’s worth of Championship football next term.

Should the club fail to strike a deal with Bennett, they will go shopping in the market for another left back.

As for Sol Bamba, of course, the situation is slightly different.

Bamba is keen to play again, however given the tribulations of the last four months following his cancer diagnosis, there are far more pertinent things which need to be taken care of first.

The centre-back, 36, made a triumphant return to the pitch on the final day of the season, albeit for only 10 seconds at the end of the clash with Rotherham, after finishing his sixth and final round of chemotherapy.

Bamba, who is currently undertaking his badges with the FAW, revealed to Gist Vile there is a pathway in place for him at Cardiff to become part of the structure in a coaching capacity in the years to come.

There are, though, complications surrounding his own contract and that could well involve that playing/coaching split.

While Dalman did not divulge too much, the City chief was adamant that his prime concern was to see Bamba fit and well once again.

“First of all, Sol is one of the nicest — a great guy,” the Bluebirds chairman added. “I’ve always had good rapport with him.

“I still remember the first day he walked into the club to sign for us, he has got that smile on his face whatever happens.

“First of all, our wish is for him to get well and that’s got to be his prime importance. Our job, our responsibility, is to support him through that.

“Over the next few weeks, dialogue will continue to see how we go forward. It’s not that clear-cut to be honest with you, there are a number of elements involved, and all the parties need to discuss this.

“But I’m a big fan of Sol and I hope he gets better. That’s my prime concern.”

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