17 Dec 2016

Anfield-bound? Boss responds to Liverpool interest in 'excellent' £20m star; confirms transfer is a no-go

Ex-Red Rafa Benitez has dismissed Liverpool's interest in one of Newcastle's most coveted players.

Earlier this week, the Sunderland Echo claimed that Liverpool 'sent a rep to scout Jamaal Lascelles last weekend' with a view to making a 'January bid' for the talented central defender.

Benitez isn't planning on selling, though, and when asked this week about Liverpool's alleged interest, he told reporters:

"I saw the [Liverpool] links about Jamaal, but I have been talking with him and with more people around him. He's happy, he's OK and we think that he's a good player for us, so I don't see any big change in January around him”.

Some info about £18m-rated Lascelles, who is Newcastle's captain:

* 23-year old center-back, who can also play at right-back. Contract expires: 2020

* 108 apps for Nottingham Forest and Newcastle. Injury free so far.

* Scouting Report (Strengths): "Aerial presence is a real asset. Impressive leap. Strong in the challenge. Has pace. Prefers to play short passes rather than long".

* Scouting Report (Weaknesses): "Tendency to give away fouls in aerial challenges. Slightly ill-disciplined. Willingness to give forwards too much space to turn".

* Aug 2016: Steve McClaren's assessment: "From nowhere he [Lascelles] became a leader. He used to come after the senior and foreign players in training if he thought they weren’t putting it in, which caused conflict, but we needed the conflict.”

Given Benitez's close ties to Liverpool, it should (in theory) be easier for Jurgen Klopp to sign players from Newcastle. As such, if Lascelles plans to leave in the summer, I'm sure Rafa will give the Reds a glowing recommendation.

* Lascelles: Described by Harry Redknapp as an 'excellent prospect'


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