After a difficult season at St James’ Park, Jonjo Shelvey has been regularly tipped to leave over the past few months – but his latest comments suggest he’s fully intending to stick it out on Tyneside.
A move to West Ham looked likely, but the midfielder has insisted he’s focused on nothing other than getting fit and back into our first-team ahead of the 2019/20 season.
He’s struggled with injuries and was no longer a regular starter under Rafa last season, but, based on his comments here, he’s determined to get back in the side and ‘kick on’:
“You’re going to have these seasons now and again.
“Hopefully that is mine done and out of the way, and now I can look forward and continue into next season the way I finished last season.
“I obviously want to get myself back into the team first of all, and make sure by the start of the season that I’m back in the starting eleven and then kick on from there.”
He ended the season in style, scoring a stunner at Craven Cottage and running the show all afternoon from midfield, but it’s still been suggested by several local reporters that Benitez could cash in this summer.
That said, there’s a chance a new manager arrives next month and even if Rafa stays, he may well decide to keep a hold of Shelvey given Hayden and Diame seem more likely to depart – and there’s only so many midfielders we can lose in one window!
Here’s what Shelvey then said when asked about the Asian Cup, saying games against top 10 Premier League sides will only help his fitness levels heading into the new season:
“It’s always good to play against teams that you’re going to be playing against next season. It’s better for your fitness to play a team straight away who is in your league. The likes of Manchester City, Wolves and West Ham all finished in the top half last season so it’ll be interesting but a one we will be looking forward to.
“It will be difficult to play in the humidity and heat over there but something we are all looking forward to do. This sort of work, and the work I’ve been doing out in Dubai, that can only stand me in good stead for it.
“As long as I’m fit and I’m ready, the football side of it will take care of it for myself. I just need to get myself back to the fitness levels I lost during the three or four months I was injured.
“That’s what I’ll aim to do, and I’ll come back ready to start the season.”
There’s been talk of Rafa wanting ‘brains’ added to the midfield if he stays this summer, but if Jonjo can get fully fit and regain top form, he has one of the most talented passers of the ball in England in Shelvey.
It may be that Benitez stays and Shelvey is politely told that he’s no longer in Rafa’s first-team plans, but it’s brilliant to see him knuckling down and vowing to fight for his future.