An interesting new transfer tale reports that Newcastle and Fulham could be set to swap Jonjo Shelvey and Tom Cairney.
Rafa Benitez’ interest in the Fulham midfielder started two years ago when it was widely reported he wanted to sign the Scottish international in January 2017, to help make sure of promotion and start building for a likely return to the Premier League.
Rafa of course was blocked by Mike Ashley from making a single signing in that window and expressed his anger and frustration at the end of January 2017, telling the media that e didn’t know why none of the targets he had given to Ashley’s people had been signed.
Ongoing interest was reported and in the summer 2017 transfer window it was even claimed Newcastle had seen a £20m offer rejected for Tom Cairney.
That was a little difficult to believe, the claim of a £20m offer and not the fact Fulham had rejected it. Their ambitious owners were determined to keep the midfielder who had scored 13 goals and got 10 assists in 2016/17.
He had issues with injuries last season but still played a key role in Fulham’s promotion, scoring six and getting five assists.
This season though he has found life tougher in the Premier League, as indeed the whole Fulham team have, Tom Cairney managing no goals and only one assist.
The ‘exclusive’ has been published by The Sun which will instantly lead to scepticism by many but regardless of the source, this type of deal wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if it did happen.
Claudio Ranieri is said not to see Cairney as a first team choice and dropped him on Boxing Day, after the midfielder had played the first 82 minutes at St James Park in the goalless draw.
From the Newcastle side of things, Jonjo Shelvey made seven starts early in the season without NUFC winning any of them, then with the game goalless he was subbed with an injury against Watford. Ki came on and helped Newcastle to three wins in a row and when Shelvey returned to fitness at the end of November, he was put on the bench three times before picking up a thigh injury.
The newspaper report says that Rafa Benitez is looking for a number 10 and with cash unlikely to made available for the likes of Miguel Almiron, trading in Newcastle’s biggest earner for Tom Cairney who can play that position, is an attractive alternative.
Newcastle really struggle for goals, mobility and creativity in those forward positions, with Ayoze Perez so poor this season.
Tom Cairney confirmed Newcastle’s interest last December (see below) and he turns 28 in January, with Shelvey then turning 27 in February, so probably little difference in the valuations or even potentially Rafa Benitez/Mike Ashley getting a few quid as a balancing payment in any swap deal.
As with all transfer stories, whatever the source, you are automatically sceptical but something along these lines does sound more viable than your typical NUFC transfer tale. Rafa Benitez has found to his cost that if he sells players for significant money, such as Merino (£10m) and Mitrovic (£22m rising to £27m), there is no guarantee of that kind of money then being made available for replacements (Ki £0 and Rondon loan).
So on the basis of signing Miguel Almiron for £24m looking about as likely as Mike Ashley selling NUFC, Rafa Benitez will yet again be looking at loans, frees, bargains and potentially, swap deals.
Tom Cairney speaking to the Evening Standard – 8 December 2017:
“I love playing football here (at Fulham).
“That is what I want to do.
“I feel a responsibility to Fulham. It’s been great ever since I arrived.
“I enjoy playing football, I really enjoy playing it at the Cottage and long may it continue.
“It’s a massive accolade that Rafa Benitez wants me.
“It’s a pat on the back to myself I guess, to know that other managers appreciate what I’m doing.
“You can’t put a price on happiness.
“Last season I was extremely happy on and off the pitch and that’s when you play your best football.
“I wanted to show my happiness to the fans, let them know that I want to be here and try to take Fulham forward.”