Why Jamaal Lascelles' new contract at Newcastle United is nothing to be celebrated
Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez are preparing for a tough challenge this coming weekend, set to host Watford on Saturday afternoon in search of the season’s first Premier League victory. The future of their head coach may be a bit uncertain, but Wednesday’s announcement of a new contract for Jamaal Lascelles should provide a boost for the future. Except that it doesn’t.
The Magpies captain penned a deal that should keep him at St. James’ Park until 2024, as the defender continues his progression in the top flight. Lascelles has been at the heart of Newcastle’s triumphs during recent times and has displayed remarkable leadership qualities at a very young age. The 24-year-old is quite a popular figure, both with Toon fans and with Benitez.
However, when examining Newcastle’s current situation and their habits as they relate to players potentially on the move, this all adds up to a bad omen for supporters. Rumours of Lascelles leaving Tyneside have been seen for months, with the likes of Everton and Chelsea said to be interested. Clubs may be willing to pay a steep price, and a new contract has never stopped owner Mike Ashley from making this type of decision before.
In 2010, Andy Carroll was a rising talent in the first division. The English international was wearing Newcastle’s number nine shirt proudly and living up to the immense pressure that came with it. Several sides were interested in his goalscoring services, but United signed him to a new long-term deal in October of that year. What happened in January? He was off to Liverpool for £35 million.
The current term has had a negative cloud above it, especially with Benitez in the final year of his own contract. Newcastle’s hierarchy may feel that now is the time to cash in on Lascelles, as there would be obvious interest in the young centre-back. A relegation battle is on the cards for the rest of the campaign, and Lascelles leaving in January would be absolutely devastating. The team's attack must improve, but the captain certainly also needs to stay with the squad.
This is all speculation at this point, and perhaps Jamaal Lascelles’ new deal with Newcastle United is simply a statement of intent on his playing future in the North East. But, fans have seen this familiar song and dance from ownership before.
If the defender departs in January while the club are languishing at the bottom of the table, it may be too much for supporters to handle.