NRL Rd 18 - Panthers v Eels
PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 11: Clinton Gutherson of the Eels looks on during the round 18 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Panthers Stadium on September 11, 2020 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Parramatta Eels' battle to retain captain Clint Gutherson is set to get tougher.

The star fullback is off-contract at the end of 2022 alongside a host of other Parramatta stars, and after a drawn-out negotiation process, Parramatta are seemingly no closer to securing the skipper long-term.

Joining Gutherson off-contract are another 14 players including stars Isaiah Papali'i, Reed Mahoney, Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson, while Maika Sivo and Dylan Brown both have player options in their favour.

Gutherson originally started negotiations mid-season with Parramatta, however, they were reportedly put on hold to allow Gutherson and his teammates to focus on winning a premiership.

There was also the small matter of coach Brad Arthur's future being up in the air at the helm of the club, however, with that now sorted, Parramatta have turned their attention to player contracts.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard was first to re-sign of their 18 off-contract players, while Marata Niukore has joined the Warriors from 2023 and Keegan Hipgrave has retired.

NRL Rd 1 - Eels v Bulldogs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Reagan Campbell-Gillard of the Eels is tackled during the round 1 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

But the battle to retain Gutherson is growing.

His agent Sam Ayoub confirmed to The Daily Telegraph over the weekend that there is now genuine outside interest in the fullback.

“You would be insane to assume otherwise,” Ayoub told the publication when questioned, while also revealing that there would be no rush to finalise deals for Gutherson, or his two other off-contract Eels' players in Junior Paulo and Reed Mahoney.

“None of them are anxious to get anything sorted. They really aren’t. There is no pressure," Ayoub added.

Paulo has been linked with a move away from the Eels, while Mahoney has met with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Ayoub wouldn't reveal however which clubs he had spoken to regarding Gutherson, or whether an official deal had been received for the club captain.

The Eels have tabled offers to all three players, but it's understood they are not close on valuation in terms for all three players, with Gutherson wanting a three-year extension which Parramatta seem unwilling to give according to all reports.

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