What to Do With Jonjo Shelvey

Mike Hewitt

After starting the season as one of Brendan Rodgers' preferred midfielders, Jonjo Shelvey has now found himself as the subject of speculation about an exit.

With a dip in form and playing time as the season progressed, it was always likely that the future of Jonjo Shelvey would be up for discussion. The young midfielder started the season under Brendan Rodgers as one of the manager's favored players; most, if not all, of us have seen the interaction between player and manager on Being: Liverpool in which Rodgers made no bones about where he saw the player fitting, stating that he would be the goal-getter from the midfield for years to come. Ten months later, talk about where he'll be for years to come now involves Norwich City and Crystal Palace.

The latter comes into to the fold given Shelvey's success on loan at Blackpool under Ian Holloway; the Tangerines played a slightly more attractive brand of football than the recently-promoted Palace side, but it was clear that Shelvey had, to borrow an oft-used and mildly annoying phrase, found his level. In ten appearances he scored six goals, becoming one of Holloway's most favored midfielders and falling out of the side only after a rash of injury problems cut the deal short.

Norwich's involvement has only bubbled to the surface today, with The Daily Mail and others reporting that the Norfolk side have made an inquiry as to Shelvey's involvement in the transfer market. In these same reports Liverpool have set an £8m valuation on the player, all of which combines to produce the notion that any move away would be permanent rather than temporary, and that a player once lauded as part of Liverpool's midfield of the future wouldn't have a place now or then.

Aside from those writing him off completely--and there are more than a few eager to do so--most seem to agree that a loan deal for the coming season is the best possible option. That Palace and Holloway have recently joined the Premier League only sweetens the pot, as it'd reunite a manager who believes in the player and would be able to give him significantly more minutes than Liverpool and Rodgers would afford. Shelvey would still have to compete for his spot, of course, but a loan deal to a side that's just been promoted would be a good fit, and it would allow for an actual body of evidence to grow rather than blanket condemnation based on erratic and inconsistent performances produced during the first spell in which he was granted an opportunity in the starting eleven.

At his best he's an exciting, forceful midfielder who can get goals and make ranging passes, possessing good technique and an ability to impose himself on a match. The problem is that Liverpool have seen far too little of that, and it's clear enough that Jonjo Shelvey isn't ready for regular first-team minutes at Liverpool given the depth and quality that's there (and that might be arriving). Moving him out permanently based on that fact would be too much too soon, though--give him time away, whether it be to Palace or another promoted side, to see what he can offer as he matures, and make a more permanent decision later.

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