Feature Writer

Jonjo Shelvey – The debate to sell or keep

Recent reports suggest Jonjo Shelvey is the subject of interest from clubs including Norwich City. Ben Twelves discusses whether Liverpool should keep the English midfielder.


As with any summer period, no games means the attention and discussion inevitably gets turned towards player recruitment – those that will come in and those that will be moved on. However, so far this summer break, there has been far more speculation as to who is coming in than leaving.

An early signing of Kolo Toure has been followed by increasing reports that Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas is set join Liverpool, with Sporting defender Tiago Ilori supposedly about follow him through the Anfield door. Talk of Shakhtar star Henrik Mkhitarayan and Sevilla’s Luis Alberto is hotting up as the days go by and although speculation of moves for Schalke hardman Kyriakos Papadopolous and Porto’s Christian Atsu has quitened, indications suggest that both are still very much on the cards.

So far, the only genuine talk surrounding an outgoing is big-money misfit Andy Carroll, who is reportedly stalling on a permanent switch to East London, with it believed that the reason for the delay being the striker waiting for an offer to return to home-town club, Newcastle United. Luis Suarez rumours went wild after he revealed his frustrations with the treatment of the English media towards him, but nothing concrete has surfaced following his comments and all has gone quiet, along with talk of Pepe Reina leaving for Barcelona, luckily.

But over the last few days there have been murmurings of a departure for young midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who currently finds himself way down the pecking order of midfielders at Rodgers’ disposal with Norwich, Stoke, Fulham and West Ham all reportedly monitoring his situation. But does Shelvey still have a role to play at the club?

I first saw Shelvey play when he was just 17 at Charlton Athletic and although at the time he was playing League One football, it was quite clear to me that he was more than capable of moving higher. That day, he lined up in central midfield, bossed the game and scored in a 2-1 win for his side. His display left me very impressed considering his age and when I first noticed speculation starting to rise, I wasn’t surprised. What I admired most were his mental attributes – he was fearless, brave on the ball, demanding of his teammates and didn’t for one moment shy away. He also provided a presence in midfield with his size, ability to tackle and cover ground.

But alongside that and most importantly, Shelvey showed signs that he could really play the game. He got himself into the box, timing his runs from midfield to get on the end of crosses (like his goal) and it was evident he had an eye for a pass and good awareness. However, I felt what let him down at the time, perhaps slightly harshly seeing as he was very young, was his touch and I still feel it does now, over three years on.

Alongside an inconsistent first touch, especially in the final third, I also find Shelvey to be incredibly wasteful in front of goal – taking on ambitious shots from all angles and missing a few sitters. He lacks the intricacy, craft and patience to play the style that Rodgers wants and is more of an industrious type of player.

If he was to play anywhere, for me it would be in the ‘ball-winning’ role that Lucas occupies but I even question whether Jonjo would be disciplined enough positionally to carry out that instruction with him being an all-action midfielder who likes to be around the ball. Shelvey never hesitates to get involved in games, and doesn’t go hiding unlike some, but I feel that for what Rodgers is trying to achieve, Shelvey doesn’t feature.

Looking at midfield options, the others are ahead of him in terms of what they can offer. Lucas is a better holding player, Steven Gerrard has a better passing range and is therefore a better deep-lying play-maker, Jordan Henderson has proven to be better technically with the ball at his feet and more suited to Rodgers style and he doesn’t have the creativity of the little wizard, Phillipe Coutinho.

What I like about Jonjo Shelvey is unfortunately out-weighed by what I don’t and I really do struggle to see where his future could be on the pitch at Anfield. With Joe Allen set to return from injury next season and potentially more arrivals incoming over the summer, Shelvey’s days at Liverpool are numbered and it is time to move him on, but I do wish him well for the future.

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Currently studying sports journalism, I'm an Anfield regular who can normally be found in the Kop or Anfield Road End.

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  • TonytheRed

    He’s only 21. Why not find him a good loan option and let him get some regular football & see how he develops? seeing if Swansea have any interest would be an idea, or failing that a team that plays in a similar way to Rogers ideas. That would be a better option than just sending him off to any old club that shows an interest regardless of their style of play or level. If he hasn’t come on as much as the coach’s would like after a season long loan then he may have at least done enough with his loan team to impress and increase his value.

  • jwoods

    Sell jonjo. Allen will come good next season after his shoulder operation he has the patience and ability to play the game. jonjo shows flashes of quality now and then but moves around like he is berbatov a young Gerrard he is not and he will never be.

  • Matt

    Agree with article. His first touch is terrible, and his passing accuracy, I would suggest, is poor. What frustrates me most for a physically big guy is his weakness in the air. How many times have we seen him arrive in the box and plant his header straight into the ground without troubling the keeper?? He doesn’t fit the style at all. We need good passers who are comfortable with the ball in tight places. Shelvey is not that person.

  • RedChica

    I think loaning him out to a side that prefers a passing game should be better both for him and, if he has a good season and develops as a player, we can keep him, and if we are to sell him maybe the season after – we could potentially sell him for more decent money than £5 – 8m

  • jon

    he has a lot of potential but needs experience… should be loand

  • Emir Atikovic

    Just send lad out on decent club one year loan(PL club) don’t sell at all price coz it will be cheap and i don’t want to see another “in one year proof” world class young talent like Tom Ince we want to bring back after someone didn’t do his homework!!!!JFT96 YNWA4LIFE.

  • samnexus

    The sooner we LFC fans and manager realizes many of the british players are really not good enough, the better. Sell Shelvey, Allen, Downing, Henderson,Spearing,and Carroll. Get James McCarthy, Benat, etc. If we really want to compete with the top five, then we should take a good look at ourselves and facereality. Many of the british players are just not good enough.

  • RaveDave001

    Its very simple sell him and put a buy back clause in the deal, but somehow i don’t think we would ever need to activate it. I can honestly say i have never seen a player as confusing as Jonjo, i have watched every Liverpool game this season and in probably about 5 of Jonjo’s appearances i have thought there is a player in there, in another 10-12 he has been average and in the rest you wonder if hw would get his place on a pub team, one game in particular sticks out which was the Stoke away league game, i don’t think i have ever seen a worse performance from a Liverpool player in all my years of supporting the club.

    If anyone wants to offer £5+ million for him the club shouldn’t hesitate to cash in.

  • Kvist

    Loan him out. There is absolutely no reason to sell. He carried us through the group stage of Europa League alone.

  • Joe Spoon

    The wrong sort of player for the way we play unfortunately. If he could hold down a holding role and boss the midfield, that would be ideal, but his tackling is woeful and rash to say the least.

    Rodgers put a lot of faith in him at the start of the season, but he was unable to adapt and improve. It is a shame as he does have some great attributes that LFC need, but he is no where near technically gifted enough and the style of football we play requires an excellent first touch. I can see why West Ham, Fulham and Stoke are after him, but I’m surprised that Swansea are.

  • Jim Mason Paddock Stand

    You can’t teach a player to ghost into the box the way Jonjo does, but you can teach him how as Wenger says “take a breath and an extra second”, we will rue the day we sell him on the cheap. He is young and still learning the game, I agree with some on here a loan move would be perfect.

    Remember he was on loan at Blackpool and played so well and scored plenty of goals that we ended up calling him back. Henderson and Shelvy are our future midfield they just need time. Look how Henderson came on last season, we have so many no marks on the Kop now who haven’t a clue. The lad needs time if we don’t give him that, don’t moan when he comes back to Anfield in 3 years time and tears us apart.