Benitez expects Lascelles to stay amid reported Liverpool interest
Rafael Benitez is not surprised by reported interest in Jamaal Lascelles, but believes the Newcastle United captain will remain on Tyneside.
Lascelles led Newcastle to the Championship title in the 2016-17 season and then kicked on in the Premier League, impressing at the centre of a sturdy defence to scoop the club's Player of the Year award, as Benitez's men secured a top-10 finish on their top-flight return.
The 24-year-old's performances have reportedly attracted interest, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham linked with the player, but Benitez feels his skipper is in the right place to continue his development.
"I think [Lascelles] will stay here, hopefully for the long term," the Newcastle boss told Chronicle Live. "He has huge potential and big clubs will look at him because he is a young, English centre-back.
"It is not easy to find good centre-backs who can play well in the Premier League, especially not English ones. It's even harder to find young ones. You only need to look around the Premier League to see that.
"He has all the attributes to be a target for all top teams because, as you can see from his performances over the last two years, he keeps getting better and better.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: @Lascelles16 has been named Newcastle United’s official Player of the Year for the 2017/18 campaign.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 23, 2018
"But I think that for his future and for his development, he stays in a place where he can play and he can improve and continue to keep getting better with us. I think he understands that too.
"He seems happy and he is learning all the time, so I hope he stays for a long time."
Lascelles has also quelled talk of a move during the transfer window, acknowledging that it is important he continues to play regularly at this stage of his career.
"This is the happiest I've been," he said. "I'm playing week in, week out, and I'm the captain here.
"The fans love me and I've got a good relationship with them because I love them. And we're doing well, too. I'm very happy here.
"You hear things, you hear rumours and stuff, but I'm a young player and I need to be playing football at a good club - and that's what this is."