Rafa Benitez worked wonders on Tyneside last season to deliver a top-half finish for the Magpies last season. On a shoe-string budget, he has a real job on his hands to repeat last season’s achievements.
Rafa Benitez will likely be once again frustrated by transfer business in Newcastle, not able to go for the upper echelon of players despite his successes last season. After a few disastrous tenures before him, under the likes of Alan Pardew and John Carver, Benitez has brought solidity and organisation to the club which was badly missing before his arrival.
Jonjo Shelvey had an excellent season in the Black & White stripes last season. Shelvey dictated play in the middle, spreading the ball to get the Magpies on the move. Without his driving runs and ball-playing ability, Newcastle would not have achieved a tenth placed finish.
Shelvey is valued at £13.5m by Transfermarkt.
The 26-year-old has got his career back on track at St James Park. His performances were of such a high quality, that many commentators believed he should have been included in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Russia World Cup.
As long as Mike Ashley is in charge, there is going to be a lack of ambition at Newcastle United. A tenth placed finish is likely the best Shelvey can hope for. A move abroad, or to a top-six English club could push his career to the next level. Whilst some question his temperament, last season he proved his quality cannot be doubted. Shelvey completed 157 accurate long-balls last season.
If he doesn’t leave St James Park, his career will stagnate in Tyneside. Surrounded by better quality players, he could yet improve and maybe win trophies in his career.