Rafael Benitez rules out Jonjo Shelvey leaving Newcastle
No takeover developments as yet, says Newcastle boss
By James Dale
Last Updated: 28/12/18 6:03pm
Jonjo Shelvey will not be leaving Newcastle in January, manager Rafa Benitez has said, despite a self-imposed gagging order regarding transfers.
Fulham's Tom Cairney was set to be offered in a swap deal for Shelvey, according to recent newspaper reports, but Benitez quashed any deal, adding that Newcastle are "not ready to sell anyone" at the moment.
"No, no chance," said Benítez, when asked if Shelvey would be allowed to leave - after earlier claiming he had decided "not to talk about the transfer window".
Shelvey is in line to return for Newcastle for Saturday's trip to Watford, said Benitez, who is also currently without South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung at the Asian Cup.
"Jonjo is an important player for us," Benitez added. "Him and Ki can technically pass the ball well and keep it, they give confidence to the rest of the team. I hope Jonjo will be as important to us for the rest of the season as he was last year."
A month on since Mike Ashley told Sky News he was "hopeful" of selling the club to a party capable of providing investment in time for the transfer window, Benitez confirmed he was not aware of any developments regarding a takeover.
Benitez said he was in constant contact with director of football Lee Charnley but refused to discuss any potential deals next month.
However, Benitez later revealed Rob Elliot would be the only player allowed to leave due to a surplus of goalkeepers, despite Leeds' reported interest in Karl Darlow.
Benitez stood by his claim last week that Premier League survival would be a "miracle", even if Newcastle receive funds for January transfers, and said the club's only objective for 2019 is to "stay up".
"I have had the conversation with the players and they do understand what is going on," he said.
"We have to be really concentrated and focused every game. We cannot make mistakes. If we make mistakes we can lose against anyone.
"Do I have confidence we can do it [stay up]? Yes. But to do it will be because everything is right. It will be a miracle."
Newcastle's upcoming fixtures
- Watford (a) - Dec 29
- Manchester United (h) - Jan 2
- Blackburn (h) - FA Cup, Jan 5
- Chelsea (a) - Jan 12
- Cardiff (h) - Jan 19
- Manchester City (h) - Jan 29
- Tottenham (a) - Feb 2
Newcastle are five points clear of the relegation zone but face Manchester United, Chelsea, Cardiff, Manchester City and Tottenham before February 2.
Benitez reiterated he does not expect Newcastle, who finished 10th last season, to get out of the bottom half of the table this time around.
Asked what his ambition was for 2019, the Spaniard said: "That is so simple: to stay up. To do well and stay up.
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"My message is very clear also, that the target is to stay up, and after we will see where we can go like last year.
"But we cannot talk about other things, it's just doing well.
"We are in the bottom half of the table and we will be there, so we have to stay as high as possible in this situation and if we can get the points we need to stay up - after we can see how high we can go. But the main thing is to stay up."