Russia midfielder Valery Karpin has extended his contract with Spanish first division leaders Real Sociedad until June 2004.

Karpin, 33, joined Sociedad on a one-year deal last summer from Celta Vigo. He has been a key figure in Sociedad?s surprise rise to the top of the table.

?We believe that he has been making a very important contribution to the club and we want that contribution to continue,? Sociedad’s sporting director Roberto Olabe said.

Olabe also confirmed that officials from Newcastle had made contact with the Basque club with a view to signing winger Javi De Pedro, but their overtures had been rejected.