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Mansour faces uncertain future after being given early release option

Penrith winger Josh Mansour may have played his last game for the club after being granted permission to leave with 12 months remaining on his deal.

As first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, the 30-year-old has been told the re-signing of rising star Charlie Staines will push the veteran winger to a back-up role next season alongside new recruit Robert Jennings.

Mansour is the longest serving player on the Panthers roster with 158 games under his belt after making his NRL debut in 2012.

The Panthers fended off rival clubs to extend Staines's tenure last month on a three-year deal with the Forbes junior earmarked as the club's first option to play alongside Brian To'o on the flanks.

In his two games in the NRL this year, Staines scored six tries, including four in one of the greatest debut performances in premiership history.

It's understood the Panthers are happy to accommodate Mansour under their 2021 salary cap if he decides to remain with the club for a 10th season.

Panthers' top five tries of 2020

Penrith teammate Nathan Cleary said players were aware of the nature of the business.

"Everyone loves Saucey, but he will say it himself, it's just what football is like," he said.

"We would love to be able to stay together but there are just people off contract and stuff like that. It's just how footy works, especially with the salary cap. We'll see what happens."

Mansour signed a three-year contract extension with the Panthers in 2018, just two days after suffering a horrific facial fracture that kept him sidelined for more than three months.

The loyal clubman, who missed just one game during Penrith's incredible 17-win streak in 2020, scored 12 tries in 22 appearances and the former Kangaroos and Lebanon representative could prove a valuable recruit for a rival club.

Among the clubs searching for outside backs include premiers Melbourne, who are yet to find a replacement for Josh Addo-Carr, who has requested a release from the final year of his contract.

The Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra and Canterbury are also active in the market for outside backs, while the English Super League could also be an option for Mansour.

Cleary added that finding game time for the club's crop of young talent was not an easy task.

"That becomes the hard part, especially with the local juniors, everyone is so young," he said.

"Everyone is going through the grades with more money and stuff, that is the hard part of trying to keep everyone. I'm just glad I don't have to pick the team."

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