Jamaal Lascelles is the most in demand player on the club’s books.
The Newcastle United Captain being the rock at the back, which was the biggest factor in NUFC reaching safety with still a month to go.
The stats with and without him in the team are startling.
No wonder the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton and Chelsea are all repeatedly linked with Jamaal Lascelles.
Possible selling prices of up to £45m have been mentioned and some Newcastle fans think maybe dealing on the NUFC Captain could be a good move, if Rafa gets any transfer fee added to his summer budget.
A word of warning.
The best and most influential centre-back that Newcastle have had in my lifetime, is Jonathan Woodgate.
Yes, I know it is difficult to claim he was influential because of the limited number of games he played, BUT in the games he did play, what a brilliant player he proved to be.
Jonathan Woodgate arrived at Newcastle in January 2003 and helped NUFC finish third in the Premier League that season.
In 2003/04 it proved to be Woodgate’s only full season at St James Park and he was the real shining light in a difficult season.
A bit like Jamaal Lascelles, when Newcastle played with Jonathan Woodgate they were so much better.
Injury prone, Woodgate started 18 of the 38 PL games of 2003/04.
With Woodgate in the team, Newcastle had a record of W8 D8 L2, with 32 points from 18 games at an average of 1.78 points per game.
Without Woodgate in the team, Newcastle had a record of W5 D9 L6 with 24 points from 20 games at an average of 1.20 points per game.
With Woodgate playing, Newcastle conceded 13 goals in 18 games, without him it was 27 goals in 20 games, almost twice as many on average.
August 2004 saw Newcastle sell Jonathan Woodgate to Real Madrid and what a difference it made (although I do accept that with Woodgate there was never a guarantee he could stay fit) to Newcastle United.
Sir Bobby Robson was sacked after only a handful of matches and Graeme Souness brought in, however the loss of Jonathan Woodgate was arguably the biggest factor in Newcastle sinking from fifth in 2003/04 to 14th in 2004/05/
Newcastle actually scored only five less goals (47 compared to 52 in 2003/04) but in terms of goals conceded it went from 40 to 57 without Woodgate.
Without the former Leeds defender, Newcastle actually lost more points from winning positions in 2004/05, than in any other Premier League season so far.
These are the games where Newcastle led, only to end up drawing or losing, final score and then in brackets the winning score(s) NUFC held:
Middlesbrough 2 Newcastle 2 (0-2)
Newcastle 2 Norwich 2 (2-0)
Aston Villa 4 Newcastle 2 (1-2)
Birmingham 2 Newcastle 2 (0-1)
Charlton 1 Newcastle 1 (0-1)
Newcastle 1 Everton 1 (1-0)
Newcastle 1 Portsmouth 1 (1-0)
Liverpool 3 Newcastle 1 (0-1)
Blackburn 2 Newcastle 2 (0-1 and 1-2)
Man City 1 Newcastle 1 (0-1)
Newcastle 1 Charlton 1 (1-0)
Portsmouth 1 Newcastle 1 (0-1)
Man Utd 2 Newcastle 1 (0-1)
Newcastle 1 Chelsea 1 (1-0)
The final 2004/05 Premier League table:
In total, a massive 31 points were lost in 2004/05 PL games where Newcastle had taken the lead at least once, these 11 draws and three defeats.
Considering Newcastle finished only eight points off eighth, fourteen off sixth, and seventeen off fourth, if Jonathan Woodgate had stayed and been able to play throughout the season, or a similar standard replacement signed, then where could NUFC have ended up in the table instead?
Key players who are also leaders and organisers, such as Jonathan Woodgate and Jamaal Lascelles, are sometimes almost irreplaceable.
A massive risk if Newcastle did sell Lascelles, no matter how much they might get for him.