Claudio Ranieri has told Fulham’s top executives that he wants to explore the possibility of swapping club captain Tom Cairney with Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, according to Dave Kidd in the Sun.
Cairney has reportedly fallen out of favour with the new Fulham manager and was dropped to the bench for the Boxing Day draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Scottish international was criticised for a lack of application after replacing Aboubakar Kamara with the Whites 1-0 up and is apparently disappointed at no longer being a first choice in Ranieri’s midfield.
The 28 year-old doesn’t fit into the Italian’s new-look formation which features three centre backs and Ranieri appears to prefer Ivory Coast international Jean-Michael Seri in the central midfield role that Cairney had made his own under Slavisa Jokanovic. The former Blackburn Rovers midfielder made the Championship team of the year in 2016/2017 and famously scored the winner at Wembley as the Whites beat Aston Villa in the play-off final to return to the top flight.
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez is a known admirer of Cairney, having seen a number of bids rejected over the past couple of seasons. He might be reluctant to allow the England international to leave next month, with regular starter Ki-Sung Yueng due to jet off to the Asia Cup to represent South Korea. West Ham, who actively sought to sign Cairney last year, could be another potential destination for the playmaker and Ranieri is interested in defender Pedro Obiang as a possible makeweight.
Cairney, who only signed a five-year contract extension in July, has made 145 appearances for Fulham, scoring 27 goals, since moving to Craven Cottage in a £2.5m deal back in June 2015. He became a pivotal part of Jokanovic’s side, being switched to a central role, and was named captain after Scott Parker’s retirement.