Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez says ‘happy’ Jamaal Lascelles is ignoring transfer speculation

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez is confident Jamaal Lascelles is happy at St James’ Park amid speculation linking him with a summer bid from Chelsea.

The 24-year-old central defender has been impressive as the Magpies have eased their way towards Premier League safety and has been tipped to force his way into England reckoning for the World Cup.

Reports have suggested Chelsea are preparing a £30m summer bid and a lucrative pay offer to tempt Lascelles away from Tyneside, but Benitez is convinced he is content where he is.

Asked about the speculation, the Spaniard said: “He’s happy, training well, he’s improving, he’s focused.

“You can’t stop speculation about players, but I was talking with him for a while last week and the focus is just trying to improve his game.

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“I think at the moment he knows he has to continue progressing and learning, but he is quite happy here.”

Lascelles arrived at Newcastle from Nottingham Forest in a double deal with goalkeeper Karl Darlow during the summer of 2014 with the pair immediately returning to the City Ground on season-long loan deals.

But it is under Benitez that Lascelles has established himself in the team.

Lascelles led the club to promotion from the Sky Bet Championship at the first attempt last season and then excelled as Newcastle have worked their way into the top 10 of the Premier League, 10 points clear of the relegation zone with six games remaining.