When Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow came to Newcastle in 2014 for £4 million each, I think few eyebrows were raised.

This was a central defender who, although in his scholarship years had attracted the interest of both Arsenal and Everton (the latter I think was even fined by the FA for their approach), was yet to show that he was about to fulfill the potential that had been touted in early years.

The fee was small and most importantly for me, the feedback from the people at Nottingham Forest that I know, as well as fans on social media, wasn’t entirely positive.

Despite being loaned back to Forest immediately and doing well, his first full season at Newcastle under Steve McClaren he barely featured. In the games he did play, I wasn’t too impressed. Even in the game against Watford when he scored his first goal, he didn’t look anywhere near Premier League standard.

Wen Rafa came in, Jamaal Lascelles was named in his first team selection , although even then his performances (like the rest of the team) weren’t very good. Off the field though he rightly got many plaudits, especially after the game against Southampton in which he is said to have laid into a few of his team-mates – including Darryl Janmaat.

I must say, by no means could anyone expect a young player like Lascelles to jump into what was a sinking ship and expect to perform miracles from the centre of defence. Perhaps Rafa was already preparing for the following season, and he clearly saw something in Lascelles that I, at first, didn’t.

In the Championship I think he did ok, especially in the first half of the season, taking into account that brilliant run of 9/10 games on the spin, he looked solid. By this point, I still wasn’t sure who our best centre half pairing was.

It might seem silly now, but at the time Ciaran Clark was by far our best performing defender, and I was still of the belief that Chancel Mbemba was too good for that level.

If I had been picking the team in that Championship season, I don’t think Lascelles would have been my first choice… which is probably why I am not manager of Newcastle United and that guy who has won the Champions League is.

Even then though, I felt my opinion was somewhat vindicated in the second half of the season, as I am sure Lascelles and other fans would admit that his form was poor from January-April. On many occasions he was hesitant, at home when we were on the front foot he kept getting caught under the ball on his own halfway line, and on the ball I think he lacked the quality to start attack from defence.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that all of the above has turned out to be a load of rubbish because Jamaal Lascelles is now our most important player… and on merit too! In my opinion, he is also our best player right now as well, and if there is one player at the club who you would want to hold onto this summer, it is without doubt Lascelles.

To put that into perspective, I wouldn’t sell Jamaal Lascelles for £75 million.

I laughed a little bit after the Swansea game earlier in the season when he scored the winner, because some people were claiming he should be in with a shout of an England call up, but it’s not so laughable now. I look around the division at the English centre-halves; Jones, Smalling, Cahill, Maguire, Keane and I don’t think they are better than Lascelles… with the exception of John Stones, I definitely don’t think any of them have been as good as Lascelles this season.

If England are going to go with a back three this summer, and assuming that Eric Dier will be playing centre midfield, then Lascelles would be in my starting eleven alongside Stones and Cahill.

If there are some of you that don’t believe me that Lascelles is now our most important player, then here are a few important stats provided by Chris Holt;

In the games when he was injured this season we picked up 0 wins.

Games with Lascelles: p21 w7 d6 conceded 19 (average 0.9 per game)

Games without Lascelles: p6 w0 d1 conceded 17 (average 2.8 per game)

His performance against Man United was the culmination so far this season of a player who has grown into one of the best English centre-halves in the country. Not just on form, he is a great centre-back and probably the best we have had since the likes of Woodgate.

He doesn’t hide.

He thrives on wearing the shirt and the armband.

He has played through injuries, even to the detriment of some fan’s opinion on him, unlike a certain Michael Owen…

Again, I couldn’t have been more wrong about Jamaal Lascelles.

If he isn’t your player of the year come the end of this season then I have to ask, where have you been?!

Never have I been so spectacularly wrong about a Newcastle player, or indeed any footballer.

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  • pedrodelgardo

    I have learned that the bloke who has won the Champions League and sees the players everyday and has access to the medical reports is a far better judge than me or anyone else on here no matter what they might think.

    • Mitros gotta start

      Explain his obsession with joselu then

      • fish

        Haha i would love to hear the obsession on joselu too

      • Ram Kishore

        A good question pal

    • ghostrider

      That depends on what your judgement is based on.

  • Frank Fforde

    Completely agree. He just exudes a kind of tenacity that infects the other players. We missed him when he got injured.

    • Jezza

      We’ll miss him even more next season when Fatso is depositing another £30 million in his bank account.

  • Dingus

    Agreed. For England, I’d have him in the middle with Maguire and Stones either side

  • Peaky Magpie

    You might not sell him for £75m but Fatso however…

    • Paul Patterson

      If that was received, I guarantee less than 30% of it would be spent on the team.

      • Jezza

        I guarantee less than 30 quid of it would be spent on the team.

    • Big Al 1967

      The Fat One would sell him for a lot less and a years supply of Pork Scratchings

  • Mag_Ladd

    Most important player in our team imo and as it should be as our captain. Whenever he’s been missing out of the team, you can see how lost the defence and team itself gets without him, the cup game against Luton when he went off made it glaringly obvious. Hope he does manage to get on the plane to the World Cup come summer, deserves it over some of the supposed ‘top’ English centre backs we currently have in the set-up who somehow keep getting caps.

    I like the fact we have a team of grafters now, rather than the sulky overpaid mercenaries of a couple seasons ago. There might not be as much quality, but theres heart and unity which had been missing from our squad since the days of Hughton being in charge.

  • HarryHype59

    £75m ….you will be giving the Fat lad ideas!

  • Wor Lass

    The only home game I`ve been to for over 4 years now was Bournemouth two seasons ago. Apart from the general despondency at the performance and result, three things stood for me during the game: Shelvey`s fantastic first-time passing (which noone was up to benefitting from), Moussa`s booing off (richly deserved, in my opinion) and Lascelles` quiet and assured play in the heart of defence. The lad does have class. The other thing about the day, which I liked, was the attitude of the Bournemouth fans in the Bull after the game – great lads (and lasses).

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    I always thought he was a good player but not the leader he has turned out to be at an early age that is what has made the difference. The player who was very bad and I mean useless was Diame so if he can come good there is hope for any footballer in the world trust me.

  • Keeganontherebound

    Nice article. I would also have played Clarke and Mbemba ahead of him but it’s been great to see Lascelles turn himself into a top player. Always thought he carried himself well though and he was one of the few to emerge with any credit from the league cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday a couple of seasons ago. A few of us applauded him off the pitch that day and got applause back from him. McLaren seemed to think this was somehow also directed at him, turned round and applauded us too…Cue a volley of two-fingered salutes and a startled look on Shteve’s face!

  • Down Under Mag

    I admit I was puzzled by his appointment as captain, but his attitude is first rate and explains a lot of his success and development…unlike many of his peers, his attitude drives him, his work ethic and professionalism. It’s no wonder that he has thrived and exceeded all expectations while others have fallen by the way side…those others seemingly either thinking they have already made it or they don’ thave the drive to push themselves.

    I think our captains story is probably one that many NUFC fans should take note of, too many overly judgmental and far too quick to write players off before giving them a fair chance. Lascelles was young when we got him and still is in centre half terms, hopefully we haven’t seen him hit his peak yet.

  • Paul Smith

    At the end of our previous premier league campaign he was highly rated and respected by the fans. Last season in the championship the fans were constantly slating him and at the start of this season plenty of people had him in their lists of players we should sell. Currently he’s playing well and he’s getting lots of praise.

    If his form dips people will start slating him and calling for him to be sold. People need to realise that players have dips sometimes and instead of slating them, start supporting them. It’s different to when a player just clearly isn’t good enough such as Joselu but to keep switching your opinion based on the form of the last 2 or 3 months is just moronic.

    • Damon Horner

      True. To then blame his injury is trying to save face for those guilty of ignorance

    • IAmYTM

      Form is temporary, class is permanent.

  • Leazes.

    Whatever happened to Wor Mongo?

    • Peaky Magpie

      ….or indeed Pedro….where’s he gone ???

      • Rich Lawson

        Crewe ?


    I remember talking to fans at half time just before Xmas last year and we were saying how good he was. He steemed to go backwards the second half of the season. Then during the summer we found out he had been carrying an injury and had bearly trained the second half of the season but still played. That tells u a lot about his character, I know a lot of players who would not have played carrying an injury.

    • Down Under Mag

      Especially with the abuse he was getting from some quarters…would have been easy for him to slink off on the sick but he stuck it out and put the team and the promotion bid ahead of himself. True leader both on and off the pitch!

    • Rich Lawson

      Michael Owen by any chance ?

    • David J

      But does that make him a 75m player? I’d sell him for 50m for sure. For a club that lacks funds and depth that’d buy us a good striker, a good replacement center back and maybe more.

      • NUFCLX

        It would as long as they collectively cost less than 10m. No way the fat man would reinvest the full amount.

  • Ram Kishore

    After a long time I’m thinking of seeing some competition among our Centre backs..

  • Alan

    Sorry, but I believe your judgement is still poor if you believe John Stones is an England centre-half.

  • David J

    Considering newcastle’s lack of funds and depth currently, would you really turn down 35 or 40 million for him? That is a lot of money to add more depth to the squad.

  • Jamie Paling

    I agree, I wouldn’t sell him for £75 mil either.
    I think since we were last promoted we have lacked a core. Leaders and characters who are in it for the long haul to build a team around. Players who have the stature and authority to get others in line. We’ve not had that because nobody has cared about the club and who could blame them? We basically advertised ourselves as a gateway into the premier league, have a decent 6 months with us then get your move to a club with ambition.
    If we’ve got any ambition sign him up on a very long term contract and build a team around him, if not take the 40-50 million then spend a fraction of that on his replacement like we’ve done for the last 10 years!