The Scotland international was speaking to YouTube channel ‘In The Box’ picking his ultimate XI that he has played with, a show Shelvey also appeared on last month.
Ritchie picked Shelvey in midfield, and had some kind words to say about his Toon Army team-mate – even if he suggests his mentality and obsession with golf has stopped him from reaching his potential:
“For me, I’ve said to him so many times, ‘If you just got your head down, focused solely on football and forgot about golf and whatever else.’
“It’s true, though, isn’t it? He’s mad. He’ll play golf three times a week, and I’m like, ‘Jonj, you can’t do that’. He’s like, ‘No, no, I feel better, Matty’. I’m like, ‘That’s impossible’.
“But what a player, I’ve been at Newcastle four years and I’ve seen him inside a box no more than 10 times,”
“That’s how good he is.
“His natural ability to see passes, to receive the ball, to move the ball.
“I remember playing against him as a kid – I think he scored a hat-trick, he was unbelievable.
“I say to him on regular occasions: ‘if you had your head screwed on you could play for Barcelona’
“He’s that good. He’s got everything.”
“At Newcastle, he hits the longer passes, he’s the one we look to open teams up and create – I feel like, and this is no disrespect to us at Newcastle, but if he was playing at Barcelona or Real Madrid, you can just imagine…he would just blow teams away with his ability.
“You have to have everything in the right place and he likes his golf too much!”
While the Barcelona and Real Madrid comparables are likely tongue in cheek, it is true that Shelvey has got the technical quality to play at a higher level.
He has dominated games in the Premier League for us and for Swansea, and has been capped by England six times – but fitness, consistency and discipline have often been reoccurring concerns.
These exact issues are likely what Ritchie feels need to be cleared up for him to get ‘his head screwed on.’
He has cost us in the past due to his recklessness or his attitude, but every Newcastle fan knows he has the ability in his boots to be a real star when he wants to be.
With the prospective takeover on the horizon you never know, Shelvey may finally get his chance to cut his teeth on the European stage.