April 13, 2018 / 7:07 AM / 10 months ago

'Happy' Lascelles focused on Newcastle amid transfer talk - Benitez

Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United vs Southampton - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - March 10, 2018 Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles REUTERS/Scott Heppell

(Reuters) - Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles is happy at the Premier League club and is ignoring transfer speculation to focus on improving himself and the team, manager Rafa Benitez has said ahead of Sunday’s match against Arsenal.

The commanding centre-back has been a mainstay in Newcastle’s squad under Benitez and his impressive performances have led to media reports linking him with a move away from St. James’ Park for next season.

“He’s happy, training well, he’s improving, he’s focused,” Benitez told reporters on Thursday. “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.

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

Lascelles joined Newcastle in 2014 but has flourished during Benitez’s reign. The 24-year-old was instrumental to the Magpies’ promotion-winning campaign last season.

Newcastle’s current three-game winning streak has helped them climb to 10th in the league.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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