Rafa Benitez reacts to Chelsea’s interest in Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles

Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles.
Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles.

Rafa Benitez says Jamaal Lascelles’ future lies at Newcastle United – after Chelsea were linked with a move for him.

Lascelles, Benitez’s captain, has impressed this season.

He signed a contract extension this year, so we’re calm. We’re happy with that, and hopefully he can continue learning and growing and improving.

Rafa Benitez

Premier League champions Chelsea, keen to recruit more English players, were this week linked with a summer bid for the 24-year-old, who signed a new contract earlier this season keeping him at the club until 2023.

Newcastle manager Benitez says he is “calm” about the speculation over Lascelles’ future – and he also believes any move would be premature.

“He signed a contract extension this year, so we’re calm,” said Benitez.

“We’re happy with that, and hopefully he can continue learning and growing and improving.

“He’s a player with all the potential to do well, and I think it’s too soon (for him to move).

“He’s an important player for us and I’d be happy if he stayed with us for years.”

Benitez doesn’t believe Lascelles – who will lead United out against Bournemouth this afternoon – will be affected by speculation about his future.

“I think he knows that the key for him is to perform well with his team,” said Benitez.

“In football, you never know, but he’s fine.

“I was talking with him this week – two or three times – and we were not talking about anything else apart from Bournemouth and how to improve the game.”

Meanwhile, Lascelles’ defensive colleague Paul Dummett, 26, signed a new long-term deal at Newcastle last week.

Benitez said: “It’s important for any club to have players you can trust, who can settle down and who can give you everything.

“Sometimes it will be a nine (out of 10) or a six, if they are between six and nine and then you can trust them. Others can be a nine and then a three.

“He’s a clever player. He’s also left-footed, and it’s very difficult to find left footed in football now. He’s also from the city, and he has passion and pride of the city.”