Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles has signed a new and improved six-year deal with the Magpies. The decision would seem like a strange one with Newcastle seemingly staring the barrel of a relegation battle. Call me a cynic but this smacks of Newcastle attempting to protect the value of one of their prized assets in Lascelles.
Mike Ashley is all about business
There is no secret in the fact that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is all about the money. The London businessman has not created a sportswear empire by not watching his pennies.
He has brought that business sense to the Magpies, which unfortunately has seen Ashley deciding to put not spend big, or anything really on improving the first team squad.
The fact that boss Rafa Benitez had to shop in the bargain basement for players this summer showed the lack of support that Ashley given the former Liverpool boss. The fact that Ashley has been trying to sell his shares in the Magpies has probably contributed greatly to the lack of investment in the first team squad.
Lascelles has attracted interest from elsewhere
For me, Jamaal Lascelles is Newcastle’s standout player. It is only a matter of time before he wins a call-up to the England squad. He seems very happy at Newcastle at the minute from what he has said in the media.
That is fair enough. However, a number of more ambitious and high-profile clubs have shown an interest in the Magpies star player. The likes of Chelsea and Tottenham were reportedly interested in signing the defender in the summer.
Everton were also linked with a move for Lascelles before they signed Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma on-loan from Chelsea. In short, if Lascelles wanted to leave he would no doubt have a queue of clubs waiting to pay big money for him. Newcastle owner Ashley would no doubt consider a big offer for Lascelles.
The fact that his contract is now longer means that the Magpies could recoup a bigger fee if another club comes calling in the near future.
I suspect the reason why Newcastle did not sell Lascelles in the summer was that Ashley could not afford to lose boss Rafa Benitez, who has managed to hold the team together against the odds. Selling Lascelles would have likely been the last straw for the highly-rated Spanish boss at the north east club.
Set for a tough season
I have to say I feel sorry for the Toon Army. They support their club with a passion and in numbers. They deserve better than what their team are currently serving up in the Premier League.
Lascelles signing a new deal should be positive. However, judging by many of the comments on social media and message boards many fans agree with my assessment of the situation. Newcastle look set for a long hard season. In fact, the Magpies are now odds of 7/2 to suffer relegation this season. Those odds make Benitez’s team fifth favourites to suffer the dreaded drop.
However, the Magpies are yet to win in ten Premier League games and have picked up just three points from their first ten league outings. There is a long way to go this season and the north east side are only two points away from safety.
For the sake of the Newcastle fans and in many ways their boss Rafa Benitez, I hope I am wrong and they can climb the table to safety. Lascelles may turn out for Newcastle for a long time to come.
If the Magpies suffer relegation this season I can see Lascelles being sold off to the highest bidder and his contract extension is just a way to protect their most valuable asset.
Can Newcastle escape the relegation battle?
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