Jonjo Shelvey has revealed he almost joined West Ham during the summer transfer window until Newcastle blocked the move.
The midfielder struggled to nail down a place in the starting XI under former boss Rafa Benitez and looks to be having the same difficulties with Steve Bruce after being left as an unused substitute in their 1-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday.
The Englishman made the move to Tyneside for £12m in 2016 after impressing for Swansea City and has made 114 appearances, directly contributing to 28 goals.
On his potential move to the London Stadium, in quotes carried by the Guardian, the 27-year-old said: “I was close to leaving but the club said no.
“I’m happy here, I love living in this city. I’ve never once stated I wanted to leave.”
Shelvey, who won the last of his six international caps in 2015 and does not appear to be part of Gareth Southgate's England plans going forward, also spoke out against his critics, adding: “You hear that you’re lazy.
"I get labelled lazy maybe because of my body language; I’m quite laid-back. People can say what they want. But I’m the one who goes out there and trains every day as hard as I can.
"I’m playing for another contract at this club and I need to keep performing. I understand football’s changing and I’m evolving with it but stats are stats. You can run 15km if you like but I’m a footballer.”
The midfielder captained the side during their second round Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester on Wednesday, missing a crucial penalty in the shoot-out which saw Newcastle crash out.
The Magpies face Watford on Saturday but the former Liverpool and Swansea man does not expect to be part of the starting lineup, stating: “I don’t expect to play.
“If I was a manager, I wouldn’t change the team that won at Tottenham. It’ll be a big game and, if I’m called on, I’ll be ready. I just want to be part of the squad. I get labelled I’m a sulker and not part of this team. But I am part of this team. I’ll do what the manager tells me to.”
Despite not being part of Bruce's first choice midfield, Shelvey is full of praise for his manager, particularly for reverting back to a 3-4-3 formation, and has urged fans to get behind him. He added: “Defensively we look sound.
“We’ve had playing that way in that formation instilled in us by Rafa. The gaffer has picked up on it and it seems to be working. We need to work on what we do offensively with the ball but that will come. The supporters need to get off the gaffer’s back. He’s doing a good job.”