According to The Athletic, Rafa Benitez was set to sell Jonjo Shelvey last summer had he signed a new deal at St James’ Park.
This comes from Chris Waugh’s in-depth piece on the Newcastle United midfielder, claiming he was ‘almost certain’ to be sold by the Spaniard should he have stayed.
While Shelvey had some brilliant moments under Benitez, playing a big role in our promotion season and forming a superb partnership with Mo Diame over the second half of the 2017/18, he seemed way down in his midfield pecking order last year.
After Sean Longstaff emerged, he and Hayden became Benitez’s first choice duo, while Mo Diame was also getting a game ahead of Shelvey – despite the fact the Senegalese veteran was due to leave on a free that summer.
In a way, it felt like he might’ve been kissing goodbye to Newcastle fans when he scored in our 4-0 win at Fulham on the final day of last season.
Shelvey showed signs of improving his fitness and discipline – both on and off the pitch – under Benitez, however it seems he personally prefers more of a ‘man manager’ who’ll put his arm around him; not a Rafa who’ll always demand more.
This seemed clear based on his first interview after Bruce’s appointment. “Steve has come in and it’s been like a breath of fresh air,” Shelvey said last summer “For me, personally, I probably needed that change (of manager)…”
He’s been handed the captains armband in Lascelles’ absence, was our top scorer before Almiron’s brace at West Brom and signed a new deal at the club last week as a result, proving he’s very much a part of Steve Bruce’s long-term plans.
After showing his undoubted quality against Southampton over the weekend – he could’ve had a hat-trick of assists if we could finish – let’s hope he can stay fit, improve his consistency and deliver what we know he’s capable of after committing his future to the club.