Jamaal Lascelles is a pivotal figure at Newcastle United.

He was the young player who stood up in the dressing room and told the Newcastle squad they were letting everybody down, back in 2016.

The team were fighting relegation and the then 22 year old pointed the finger at senior players who he and the supporters believed were coasting through the season, not fully giving it everything as disaster beckoned.

Rafa Benitez replaced Steve McClaren shortly after that dressing room confrontation, Mike Ashley leaving it far too late though to make the change and Newcastle were relegated, despite an upturn in results as Newcastle ended the season with three wins and three draws in the very final six matches.

Jamaal Lascelles had only made three Premier League starts previously but from the Spaniard’s arrival, Lascelles has been an almost permanent fixture in the team ever since under Rafa.

The manager even promoting the defender to be captain despite is relative youth.

Very good as a player and captain in the promotion season, that moved up a significant level to excellent last season, as Lascelles led Newcastle to 10th under Rafa Benitez. The stats were extraordinary, when the captain played, Newcastle United conceded far less goals and got better results overall.

After so long without any such pressures, Newcastle suddenly had a player once again who Mike Ashley could potentially sell because a deal would be ‘too good to turn down’, the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton and Man Utd all linked with moves last summer.

With his form for Newcastle, there was even widespread surprise amongst NUFC fans and neutrals, when Jamaal Lascelles didn’t get a single England call up, never mind go to Russia for the World Cup.

Such is the fickle nature of things, this season has seen a bit of a levelling off with some Newcastle fans going a little bit over the top the other way. Suddenly for some, Lascelles has gone from indispensable to…dispensable.

The odd injury problem, average form when playing, Federico Fernandez coming in and doing well, with Florian Lejeune also on his way back, whilst Fabian Schar has also suggested he could be very decent.

Things came to a head at the weekend for some. Jamaal Lascelles had one of his poorest games for Newcastle as they lost 2-1 to Wolves.

Of course that is only a very small minority of supporters suddenly deciding the captain is no longer an important figure at the club, on and off the pitch, the overwhelming majority knowing full well that he has a vital part to play this season and moving forward.

However, I do think that we can now look at Jamaal Lascelles with the benefit of almost three years of watching him now, and make some valid judgements.

As stated above, he is still a key player for Newcastle, that hasn’t changed.

However, it was no coincidence that on Sunday he had a really poor game, as he was playing on the right side of a three centre-back system.

Back in August it was widely reported that there had been an argument at the training ground with Jamaal Lascelles not happy being asked to play in that position wit Federico Fernandez as the middle one of the three defenders. Lascelles was dropped from the squad with instead Fabian Schar playing on the right side of a three man defence in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

On Sunday we saw why the former Forest defender doesn’t want to play there, in that role he repeatedly was given the ball and asked to try and work it forward into players in the more attacking positions. Whilst he has improved to an extent on the ball, it isn’t his strength, in fact in reality it is still a massive weakness compared to other aspects of his play. All of the other centre-backs are more comfortable on the ball – Fernandez, Schar, Clark and Lejeune.

This is where we get to the crux of things.

Jamaal Lascelles is a very good defender and one of Newcastle’s best players, no question.

However, we can see clearly now that he has limitations.

When talk comes around of the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and whoever being interested, we can sleep easy. At that level and what they need in central defenders, no way will the best Premier League clubs be interested.

Match after match they dominate possession and so they need central defenders who are comfortable on the ball, the better the team the less you need them doing defending, which is obviously Lascelles’ biggest asset.

I think it also explains the England blank. Gareth Southgate has made clear he wants defenders comfortable on the ball and once again, that isn’t Jamaal Lascelles.

That doesn’t mean nobody would be interested, but I don’t think it would be any of the very top teams, instead you could see maybe Everton, or possibly a club like Leicester if they lost Harry Maguire, potentially making a (relatively) big money offer for the Newcastle captain.

I can’t see Rafa Benitez persisting with the three/five at the back. Well certainly not at home anyway, which is where the problem is for me. Away from home, Lascelles as one of three centre-backs – even on the right of a three, isn’t a problem, as Newcastle will be defending the majority of the time, which is what he is good at. At home though, where Newcastle will get more possession, it would be an ongoing problem.

So in summary, I kind of see it as a win-win situation.

So long as Rafa Benitez is given backing to improve the Newcastle team, I think Jamaal Lascelles will be more than happy to stay. The clubs that could have turned his head aren’t interested because his strengths are not what they need and his weakness is definitely something that would put them off.

Jamaal Lascelles suits Newcastle United and the club suit him, at least it does so long as Rafa Benitez remains…

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  • Toonrobbybobson

    Hes just not match fit its that simple. He had a big run if games and its finally caught up. Having him out the firing line was the right thing. Same with Shelvey. We are coming into Christmas run in and fresh squad rotation will make huge difference. Something Rafa loves to do.

    Rafa plans it all ahead.

    • Wor Lass

      Good point.

  • Andy Mac

    I remain unconvinced. I think there’s a case for suggesting Lascelles has gone all Billy Big Bo###ks on us and, if so, he should be reminded of his position as one of four centre backs who are all vying for those two/three spots.

    Alternatively cash in on him in January and spend the money on some freakn attacking players as Fatman won’t be digging into his very long pockets with his short piggy hands that’s for sure

  • Geoff

    Both are true. Jamaal IS still a huge figure for us and somebody I very much hope stays. But it’s also true that Fernandez looks top rate, Clark is vastly underrated, Schar looks competent at this level, and Lejeune is returning who is another top defender. Maybe Clark and Schar can be convinced to stay and compete, but without playing 3 at the back week-in, week-out, you are not going to keep Fernandez, Lejeune and Lascelles. I’d obviously not want to see any of those 3 sold, but with some poorer displays and an attitude about his body language that is very concerning, along with the rumours of dissent against the gaffer – and since Lascelles would be the one of those 3 who would fetch the biggest transfer profit, I do think it may be justified to cash in now before his price drops – Fernandez and Lejeune sound like an excellent CB pairing to me, obviously the major void Lascelles would leave is in his leadership qualities, particularly with Ritchie not likely to be a permanent fixture in the team for long. Dummett seems the obvious captain, although he doesn’t have the fire and intimidation factor that the best captains have. I personally want Jamaal to stay, I like him, rate him and would be very sorry to see him go. But I will understand if the club part ways.

    • David2211

      The cash in argument is fruitless though. We’ll not see the money. He could go for free or £50m, doesn’t really matter.

      • Geoff

        Yep, there’s the crux of it and the fatal flaw in my argument. So long as Ashley is at the club it’s all moot, money made from transfers won’t be reinvested, but keeping decent players feels kinda pointless if you’re not ever going to build on the strengths of a squad. This team has a top half defence and is championship level everywhere else on the pitch – but it’s hard for fans or players to see the point in a lad like lascelles staying if he’s always going to be holding the rest of the team up.

    • Wor Lass

      Good stuff,Geoff. I agree 100%.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    He suits Newcastle United alright because him and players like Ayoze Perez etc, Are the living embodiment of Mike Ashley.
    The reality is that they are the graven images of Ashley made flesh !
    Unfortunately these players are forever tainted and linked with the short sighted and cheap Blue Print Ashley has foisted upon the Tyneside Public.

    Lets be honest here, If Newcastle United had an ambitious owner with acumen and a clear vision for the club, Then these players wouldn’t be here.

  • Chris-Chapple

    He is a central defender always playing in the middle of a back four to say he has limitations is crazy, how many other centre backs can adapt, not many and as far as Schar is concerned he is nowhere near as good as Lascelles.
    to play him on the right when he has already expressed concerns about playing there is down to Rafa. the whole team looked bemused against Wolves never mind Lascelles & if Fernandez is so good why wasn`t he played there.
    horses for courses, put Lacelles in the centre and you have a very good defender.

  • Vodkamagpie

    Lascelles dosen’t have, and will never have, composure on the ball?. He just doesn’t have that gift.

  • Mirandinha9

    He’s another epitome of how poor NUFC are these days. Compare him to Howey, Albert or Woodgate and you quickly appreciate his limitations

    • Chris-Chapple

      Albert and Woodgate were international class defenders,
      in fact Woodgate was the best i have seen in a Newcastle team,
      lascelles is not in their class but he is still a good defender and leader.

      • Wor Lass

        Woodgate was the best English centre half since Bobby Moore when he was fully fit. Howey shouldn`t be put in the same bracket. Jamaal is a completely different style of CB with nowhere near the same skill level but great leadership qualities. He`s been great for us and people shouldn`t be so quick to forget that.

    • Geordiegiants

      Lascelles would of been a Sir Bobby type of no nonsense centre half and fitted right in with his style of defending.

  • mentalman

    I see fans are now saying lascelles days are numbered because rafa played him out of position and chose fernandez to play in the centre. To me i think lascelles was put there because fernandez is as slow if not slower and it isn’t his natural game to bring the ball forward. Going forward if we continue to play with 3 at the back i can see it being either Lascelles or fernandez in the middle and a combination of lejuene schar clark and dummett for the right left spots.

  • Paul Patterson

    If Ashley remains and Rafa goes, Lascelles will follow and £45m+ will be never seen again ..

  • Soren McKenzie

    Guys, I think there are some massively unfair comments on here… Lascelles has just turned 25. Although there are a couple of outstanding young centre backs (Maguire/Stones) around at the moment, normally centre backs reach their potential much later. Gary Cahill didn’t play for England until he was 26 and didn’t join Chelsea until he was 27 and to be honest before then, I didn’t know too much about him. And he’s not been bad since. I reckon Lascelles is going to be a top premier league centre back and we’d soon regret it if he left us…

  • Billmag

    It doesn’t matter where the manager positions him in the back four Wolves first goal was down to Lascelles marking no one.

    • Dillon Tovak

      I saw that slightly differently. You see Jamaal look over his shoulder, Yedlin had the guy, then out of Lascelles view Yedlin drifts away and the guys left free.
      Who should of had him, I don’t know? But that’s the way it played out.

      • Billmag

        Ay two players supposedly marking one Wolves player, Jamal should have took charge of the situation he’s the Captain.

        • pedrodelgardo

          I think Yedlin was the back man and as such had a view of all the players positions and where the ball was going, it was Lascelles to make the challenge but Yedlin to make the shout (in time).

          • Billmag

            I’ll go with that but for there winner Jamal backed off far too much IMO.

      • Paul Patterson

        I’d prefer to blame Yedlin’s positional sense. Mind you, he’s not a centre back. He’s not even a right back. He’s be caught out time and time again. He only works in a back five . .

      • S.G.M.

        Yedlin was marking the player (left winger) behind him. Lacselles was ball watching and completely miss-judged the flight of the ball.

  • pedrodelgardo

    For what it’s worth my view of our CBs is Fernandez is the best defender, Lascelles is the best leader, Schar is the best footballer and Lejeune is the best all round package while Clarky is a decent repacement and Dummy can play there (if we had a left back). The strongest we have been at CB since I started watching in the 60s.The squad needs balancing.

    • Tony English

      Well put.

  • Mxpx

    I think with schar and fernandez available it’s fine to bring him in and out of the team based on his form as it will ensure that they are fighting for their spot I would in no way advocate for sticking him on the scrap heap though he’s still a great player just needs to get back in form

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Pretty sure Lascelles has just recently signed a new long term contract as well so he can’t be that unhappy.

    Players come in and out of form its natural. Why we want a squad. Shame we dont have this depth up top!