After the national press linked Chelsea and Spurs with summer moves for Jamaal Lascelles, Rafa Benitez has insisted that the NUFC skipper is ‘happy’ and ‘focused’ on developing his game at Newcastle United.
The 24-year-old has been our most consistent performer all season, showing leadership and character both on and off the pitch and putting in several towering displays on his first full season at Premier League level.
He’s regularly been tipped for an England call-up, and although Southgate is yet to give him his chance, his form hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere, with Chelsea and Spurs linked with a £30m move for him this summer.
Benitez has since responded to questions over the captains future, insisting that he’s ‘happy’ on Tyneside and a player who knows he has to keep ‘learning’ at Newcastle before any big move away is even considered:
“He’s happy, training well, he’s improving, he’s focused- so you can’t stop speculation about players but I was talking with him last week and the focus is on just trying to improve his game.”
“I think at the moment – he knows he has to continue progressing and learning but he is quite happy here.”
Wise words from Rafa and sound advice in that last line.
Lascelles is a grounded character, being someone whose already shown maturity beyond his years, but it’s beneficial for Benitez to remind him that he must keep progressing at Newcastle before all else.
If we don’t get new owners and this project under Rafa fizzles out, then I do worry we’ll be unable to keep him for too much longer, but right now it feels like we’re on the cusp of something great – and hopefully Lascelles can be part of that.
Either way, It’d take a big offer to prize him away this summer, but I’d hope Ashley (or whoever may be in charge) rejects all approaches.
Lascelles’ importance to this club feels invaluable.