Reports: Chelsea eyeing summer move for English defender
What's the rumour?
Chelsea are reportedly in the market for a new defender and the latest story from the Evening Standard claims that they have identified Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles as a potential summer signing.
The centre-back has a contract with Rafa Benitez's side until 2023. However, it was back in October 2017 that he had pledged his future with the Magpies by signing a long-term contract extension.
In case you didn't know...
Lascelles made his debut for Newcastle in 2015 in the League Cup. He had to wait for his Premier League debut until October, which eventually came in the form of a shambolic 6-1 loss to Manchester City. The Englishman found opportunities hard to come by and was left on the fringes in Tyneside until the arrival of the new boss, Rafael Benitez in March 2016.
He repaid the trust of his manager by capitalising on his opportunities by filling in for the injured first-team defenders. He went on to appear in 18 league matches and scored 2 goals but couldn't prevent his team from avoiding relegation.
The heart of the matter
Benitez decided to name Lascelles as the club captain of Newcastle following their relegation to the Championship. He justified his selection as the new skipper of the club and one of his major qualities was his ability to lead his backline and in the dressing room, speaking up and motivating his teammates.
He was an integral figure in that team that achieved promotion from the Championship at first attempt, making 43 appearances and scoring 3 goals.
This season, the 24 year old has been a prominent feature in the centre of defence. Despite his team struggling in the Premier League, the defender has been one of Newcastle's most consistent players.
The threat he provides in the air, defensively and especially at set pieces, are a few of his major traits. He is also skilful in clearing the ball out of defence, averaging 6.6 clearances per game and winning 3.4 aerial duels per match.
Rumour probability/rating: 9/10
Chelsea are believed to be very keen on acquiring the Newcastle skipper and moreover, a new central defender. Lascelles has been eyed as a potential replacement for club captain, Gary Cahill. 32-year-old Cahill has had a very disappointing 2017/18 campaign thus far and is set to be allowed to leave in the summer.
But there will be resistance in negotiations from Rafael Benitez, as he is a huge admirer of the former Nottingham Forest youngster and he wouldn't be resigned to losing his prized asset.
Finding a new defender will be one of Chelsea's primary targets in the transfer window. They have shortlisted an ideal replacement in central defence for Gary Cahill. He brings with him the aerial presence that the Blues will benefit from both in defence and attack.
At the same time, the defending Premier League champions need a settled back three and Jamaal Lascelles fits into the role perfectly.
Transfer negotiations will be hard with Newcastle United but if they happen to get relegated this season, it may prompt the defender to consider offers and a request for a move away from the Northeast.