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The striker's current deal expires at the end of the season and bigger clubs are starting to monitor him after his recent breakthrough into the Argentina squad

By Chris Myson

Wigan Athletic are concerned they could lose key striker Franco Di Santo on a free transfer this summer as talks over a potential new contract continue to stall.

The former Chelsea player’s contract at the DW Stadium expires at the end of the current season and he is yet to agree terms on a new deal.

Di Santo is not unhappy at Roberto Martinez’s side but following his call up to the Argentina squad and winning his first cap last month, he is beginning to attract the attention of bigger clubs.

Talks have been taking place but continue to stall due to delays from the player’s side, such as his recent international commitments, and time is now getting tight for a deal to be done.

Wigan are still hopeful they can persuade the 23-year-old to remain at the club. Martinez has a strong relationship with the striker and the club are known to be loyal and supportive to their staff.

But they are aware Di Santo will be free to negotiate with foreign clubs from January and potentially sign a lucrative pre-contract agreement, which would leave them powerless.

DI SANTO DICTATES TERMS
8/1 Franco Di Santo is 8/1 with Paddy Power to score the first goal against Newcastle on Monday
Speaking in the build-up to his side’s game against Newcastle on Monday night, Martinez confirmed his determination to keep Di Santo at Wigan.

The Latics boss said: “I believe his potential is so, so huge. He can be as good as he wants to be, but obviously he needs to be in the right environment to reach that full potential. Once he reaches that, he will be ready to challenge for anything.

“Remember, he’s still a very young man. The level he showed at the end of last season and this season shows you that he has signs of getting there very quickly.

“We all share the same feeling. We want to work together for a longer period and it’s just a matter of making it happen. Hopefully we will do that very soon.

“He knows he can trust the club in many ways because all we have done during his time here is help him with his development.

“There is a real trust in the relationship.”

Di Santo has scored three times in 13 Premier League appearances so far this season, finding the net against Southampton, Stoke City and Everton.

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