There is no doubt that midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is one of Newcastle United’s most talented footballers. And so it will have been hugely worrying for the club’s fans to see West Ham United linked with a move for the Englishman on Thursday.
The Daily Mail reported that the Hammers are monitoring Shelvey’s situation on Tyneside with a view to bringing him to the London Stadium.
The good news for Magpies followers is that manager Rafael Benitez is said to have no inclination to sell the 26-year-old unless he can bring in a suitable replacement.
Even that supposedly positive stance is a bit disconcerting, however. Clearly Benitez isn’t completely resistant to the idea of selling Shelvey, despite his immense quality. If he can bring someone else in the Spaniard will seemingly give the go ahead for the midfielder to leave.
That would be a monumental mistake for Newcastle. Even if Benitez were to find a replacement, there’s no guarantee that they would be as influential as Shelvey. There are very few midfielders that Newcastle can realistically buy who have the talent and passing ability of the former Swansea City man.
If the Magpies ever want to push on up into the top half of the table then they need to keep Shelvey. If they allow him to leave then they can kiss that aim goodbye.
If Shelvey were to depart what would that leave Benitez with in the middle of midfield? An ageing Mohamed Diame, an admittedly solid Ki Sung-yueng, a raw Sean Longstaff, a discontented Isaac Hayden and some unknown replacement.
That group of players doesn’t exactly scream top half does it? Throw Shelvey in the mix, however, and it provides the position with a completely different dimension.
The fact that West Ham – a historically smaller club – are looking to poach one of Newcastle’s best players says it all about the state of the club at the moment.
However, if the Magpies ever want to get back to their former glory then they need to resist any attempt from West Ham, or anybody else, to poach Shelvey.