OXFORD United have given up hope of holding on to Curtis Nelson next season.

The centre back was offered fresh terms earlier this summer, but it always looked a long shot having tried and failed to tie him down to a new deal throughout the campaign.

Nelson, who officially becomes a free agent when his contract expires at the end of the month, has yet to sign for a new club.

U’s boss Karl Robinson said last month the 26-year-old had made it clear his aim was to play in the Sky Bet Championship, although the transfer speculation this summer has linked him with League One title favourites Sunderland, Ipswich Town and Portsmouth.

But one club it seems certain he will not be playing for next season is United.

Robinson said: “I’ll be honest, I don’t foresee Curtis being with us next season. I think that’s quite obvious.

“I spoke to him about four weeks ago. I presume he’s got something lined up, but we don’t know where.”

Nelson joined United on a three-year deal from Plymouth Argyle in 2016.

Due to his age, the transfer went to a tribunal, which set an initial fee of £200,000.

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That rose a further £80,000 on appearances, as the defender became a key part of Michael Appleton’s side.

He was made captain by Pep Clotet in 2017 when John Lundstram was sold to Sheffield United, but his second campaign was derailed by a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Nelson missed five months, by which time Robinson was in charge.

They had a rocky start, with the new head coach removing the captaincy due to a lack of progress on contract talks.

While that loss of the armband became permanent, the defender’s performances impressed Robinson, who says they will part on good terms.

“I want to thank Curtis for everything he’s done,” the U’s head coach said.

“He gave us everything, at the back end of the season he was arguably one of our better players.

“I know when I first came in there were question marks over certain things.

“But every question mark I had over Curtis Nelson he certainly answered.

“There’s no arguments, we will always be there for him.

“Maybe we’ll cross paths again and he goes with our best wishes.”