How Rafa Benitez will hope to get the best out of a player who's never played for him, but he signed nearly six years ago

Rafa Benitez

Benitez signed Shelvey in his latter days at Liverpool, but parted company with the club before he got the opportunity to work with him.

Cast your mind back almost six years ago - it was to be a disappointing final season for Rafa Benitez at Liverpool but he would secure the signing of a promising midfielder from Charlton Athletic, Jonjo Shelvey for £1.7 million.

Benitez subsequently parting company with the Reds during one of the club's most turbulent eras in their recent history meant that the Spaniard never got the opportunity to mould the then teenager into the type of player he wanted him to be. 

But given that Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers all gave him some first team opportunities on Merseyside there was a feeling they had a talent on their hands. One does wonder if he would've made as many as the 69 appearances to his name for Liverpool across three seasons, then again none of the younger players stood out during Rafa'a Anfield reign.

The feeling was that Liverpool letting go of a talented footballer, but questionable whether he was consistent enough to deliver at the highest level. 

There were times when a younger player came through, they were very carefully managed rather than thrown in. He left the Reds to get more game time at Swansea City in 2013 before his move to St James's Park in January.

The consensus seems to be that Shelvey, now 23, is a footballer with bags of talent, though there is a question of attitude. Notably the internet points to some footage when he's playing for Swansea in the FA Cup, and his defensive effort seems to be of minimal requirement.

We have seen the talent even during his time at St James's Park. He played a key role in the win over West Ham United on his debut, even in the dispiriting defeat to Bournemouth at the weekend, it was a wonderful through-ball to Ayoze Perez that led to the Magpies solitary goal on a costly afternoon for Steve McClaren. He likes to pick the ball up from a deep position, he uses his passing range to try and switch the game from defence to attack pretty quickly.

Given the type of manager Benitez is, he will want his side to be solid, his players intelligent and disciplined but he is not going to want to curtail the attacking qualities that Shelvey has. Depending on the scenario of the game he could play further forward or may be asked to sit alongside another midfielder in a deep position. In total you could find him in three positions under Benitez as it wouldn't be a surprise to see his performance in front of goal improve in a number 10 position that isn't alien to the one Steven Gerrard adapted during the Spaniard's latter years at Anfield.

Attitude is going to be key for Shelvey to succeed under Benitez but if he gives his all, he could thrive consistently and help Newcastle kick on. That's if they manage to get themselves out of the hole they are in right now, first. 

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