By Russell Edge

22nd Feb, 2018 | 11:45am

Report: Top flight champions eye Newcastle swoop for £50k-a-week Benitez favourite

Newcastle United defender and club captain Jamaal Lascelles is being eyed up for a summer transfer swoop by reigning Premier League champions Chelsea, according to a report.
The London Evening Standard claim on their website that the Blues are keen to bolster their ageing defence with some young blood and have identified the Magpies’ 24-year-old as a potential replacement, having been tracking his progress since 2016.
It is claimed that Lascelles, who signed a new £50,000-a-week contract until 2023 earlier this season, is not angling for a move as he is a big fan of manager Rafael Benitez, and that the Spanish boss views the centre back as crucial to the club’s future.
The former England under-21 international has made 24 appearances this season, scoring three goals.
Football Insider verdict
If Newcastle sell Lascelles, there will be uproar from not only the Toon Army, but from Rafa Benitez too. The defender is viewed as a top talent on Tyneside and a key member of the first team squad, hence his appointment as club captain by the Spanish boss. His leadership both on and off the field is something that the club had lacked in the years before his emergence as a senior star, and letting him go could well see them revert back to their old ways. Quite simply, only a big money bid should even start tempting the Magpies to sell up, but even then is the money worth the furore his exit will generate? If he does go, there will be serious doubts cast over the club’s future, as it will likely signal the end of Benitez and a handful of the club’s other stars too.
In other Newcastle United news, fans were left raving over one outcast after he hit a major milestone.

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