Jonjo Shelvey’s future is beginning to become a hot talking point at Newcastle United as reports continue to link him with a move away from St James’ Park.
According to a recent report from The Chronicle, Benitez wants assurances that Shelvey will be replaced if he is sold in the summer window.
Sources in the capital have suggested that a £20 million offer is on the table for Shelvey, leaving the powers that be with a huge decision to make on his future.
While it’s not explicitly stated that the aforementioned offer has been made by West Ham, the suggestion is that the Hammers are planning on reigniting their interest and could well be the side behind the offer.
It seems that the ball is now in Newcastle’s court with an offer on the table.
There is now plenty to consider as the decision to accept the offer would be a highly controversial one in the North East.
Opinions on the 27-year-old maverick are tempestuous but ultimately large sections of any already disgruntled fanbase would be distraught if he was sold to a domestic rival in the summer.
Without an obvious replacement already lying in the squad, the playmaker’s departure could have a huge impact on Fabian Schar.
Naturally, the Magpies faithful will want to see an adequate replacement arrive at the club in the event of Shelvey’s departure, but Mike Ashley’s history in the transfer market hints that he may tell Benitez – or whoever is in charge in the summer – to utilise his current options.
Whether Mo Diame and Isaac Hayden will stay on Tyneside beyond the summer remains to be seen, and with a lack of midfield options the manager may be forced to move Schar into a ball-playing midfield role.
The Switzerland international has regularly showcased a natural passing talent in a central defensive trio this season, embracing the creative responsibility Benitez has bestowed upon him.
It’s been abundantly clear that he has been tasked with providing a creative influence from deep, launching diagonal through balls into marauding wide players and showcasing a willingness to penetrate the opposition with incisive through balls.
A return of nine key passes from 18 Premier League games is a decent return for a central defender playing within a side who are so accustomed to spending time deep inside their own half, while a further five key passes from three UEFA Nations League fixtures simply underlines his credentials to fill a void in midfield, even if only on a temporary basis.
Composed, reliable, robust and technically astute, Schar represents a dark horse contender to slot into Shelvey’s shoes following his departure.