Date: 11th February 2021 at 8:20pm
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It’s fair to say Jonjo Shelvey is a rather divisive figure at Newcastle United and, according to The Chronicle, his career on Tyneside could well have ended some time ago. 

What’s the story?

Within their ranking of the 29 regular players Steve Bruce has used since taking over from Benitez in the summer of 2019, they suggest Shelvey could departed from James’ Park had the Spaniard stayed on in charge.

Indeed, during the 2018/19 campaign (Benitez’s last) the 6-cap England midfielder made only 16 appearances, starting just ten. That season, was making his breakthrough in the first-team and Mo was largely preferred alongside Isaac Hayden, seemingly forcing Shelvey out of the starting XI. With that in mind, it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise to see him leave.

However, he’s since signed a new deal and has established himself as a regular under Bruce. Interestingly, only and Benitez himself have selected the former Liverpool man more than the current Newcastle boss with Transfermarkt noting he’s played 46 times under Bruce, compared to 61 and 104 times under the former two managers respectively.

Should he have left?

Well, based on last season’s exploits, Newcastle should be counting themselves lucky he didn’t.

Of course, things could have been different had Benitez stayed but, under Bruce, Shelvey proved crucial. No one in the registered as many goal contributions as he did (8) and three of his six goals directly led to his team picking up points.

Still, he has been criticised by sections of the support online this and his current key pass per game average (1.3, via WhoScored)) is amongst the lowest in his recorded career.

The Verdict

Thankfully, Shelvey came up trumps last and he should be respected for that. However, with Newcastle’s midfield being a problem this time around, it’s a wonder if moving him on to free up funds would have been a wiser idea long-term.

Either way, if Newcastle are going to improve, they surely need to find someone to at least come in and act as cover and competition.