Matt Ritchie Claims Jonjo Shelvey 'Could Play for Barcelona' if He Kept His Focus on Football

Josh Sim
Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
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Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie has claimed his teammate Jonjo Shelvey has the ability to play for Barcelona - but only if his head was 'screwed on', and he stopped playing golf.

The midfielder moved to St James' Park in 2016 and has played 131 games for the club, having also won six caps for England.

While he's struggled for consistency throughout his time on Tyneside, this season he's been very good for Steve Bruce's side, with five goals in his 17 league appearances.

Shelvey has played well under Steve Bruce this season.
Shelvey has played well under Steve Bruce this season. / Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

And when interviewed by the In the Box YouTube channel, Ritchie praised his teammate's playing ability, going on to extraordinarily claim the former Liverpool player has the quality to turn out for Barcelona.

He said about Shelvey: "What a player, I've been at Newcastle four years and I've seen him inside a box no more than ten times. That's how good he is. His natural ability to see passes, to receive the ball, to move the ball.

"I remember playing against him as a kid - I think he scored a hat-trick, he was unbelievable.

"He's got his moves - ending up at Newcastle. I say to him on regular occasions: 'If you had your head screwed on you could play for Barcelona'. He's that good. He's got everything."

Ritchie believes Shelvey could play at the very top.
Ritchie believes Shelvey could play at the very top. / Stu Forster/Getty Images

When later asked why Shelvey hadn't fulfilled his potential as a footballer, the Scot responded by citing the Englishman's love of golf as a key reason.

He added: "I've said to him so many times 'if you just got head down and focused just solely on football and forget about golf and whatever else'...he's mad - he'll play golf like three times a week.

"I'm like 'Jonjo, you can't do that.'

Jonjo Shelvey enjoys a trip to the golf course.
Jonjo Shelvey enjoys a trip to the golf course. / Stu Forster/Getty Images


"At Newcastle, he hits the longer passes, he's the one we look to open teams up and create - I feel like, and this is no disrespect to us at Newcastle, but if he was playing at Barcelona or Real Madrid, you can just imagine...he would just blow teams away with his ability.

"You have to have everything in the right place and he likes his golf too much!"

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