Newcastle fans all became accustomed to seeing a midfield pairing of Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame this time last year as the Magpies kicked on for a very successful second half of the 2017/18 season. However, this time around things look very different for Shelvey, as Rafa Benitez seems reluctant to play him and rumours are surfacing around his future.
To be fair to Rafa Benitez, he always has his reasons for whatever managerial calls he makes, and these decisions are never easy. If it isn’t Shelvey missing out then it’s someone else. However, the 27-year-old midfielder is one of the finest players at St James Park, and despite rumours in The Chronicle of a £20 million exit for the ex-Liverpool man, he must be held onto if the Geordies want success.
In Shelvey’s time at St James Park, he’s shown incredible loyalty to the club. Newcastle signed the midfielder in January 2016 for a sizeable fee of £12 million from Swansea and it would have been oh so easy for the midfielder to follow his fellow January signing Andros Townsend out of the door just five months later after the club were relegated. Instead, though, he chose to stay and fight for promotion.
At that time, the England man was still in the picture with the national team, having featured in the England squad in the previous November, and his decision to stay in the North East, and in the Championship, might well have cost him future England caps. Regardless, though, he stayed put, and the fans have loved him for it ever since, even if he is now out of favour for club and country.
For a time, Shelvey’s disciplinary issues may have been a problem for Benitez, but the 27-year-old looks to have sorted those out too now, as he’s only picked up one booking in 14 senior appearances this season. However, even now that’s straightened out, the former Liverpool ace has suffered long spells out of the team, and he hasn’t completed a 90-minute match since last October.
Last Monday saw the midfielder on the bench at The Emirates, and fans were fuming when he wasn’t brought on as they believed his passing range and ability to unpick a tight defence could have helped them edge the Gunners. Yet he remained an unused substitute, and whilst his future is up in the air, the best thing he can do is replicate what he did in summer 2016 and stay put at St James’ Park.