JAMAAL LASCELLES is aware of the speculation linking him with a summer move away from Newcastle United, but the Magpies skipper insists he has no intention of walking out of his ‘ideal club’.

While he might have missed out on a place in England’s World Cup squad, Lascelles’ performances over the last nine months have seen him widely acknowledged as one of the most improved and consistent defenders in the Premier League.

Chelsea have been monitoring his performances for a number of seasons, and while there is a large amount of uncertainty about the managerial situation at Stamford Bridge, the club’s scouting team are expected to include Lascelles’ name on a list of potential defensive targets this summer.

The centre-half knows he has been the subject of external interest in the last few weeks, but is adamant he has no desire to leave Newcastle.

Rafael Benitez will not want to lose him, having handed him the captain’s armband after the Magpies dropped out of the Premier League two seasons ago, and the pair’s relationship is a key factor in Lascelles’ determination to remain in his current role.

“This is the happiest I’ve been,” said Lascelles, who missed just five of Newcastle’s Premier League matches as they claimed a top-half finish on their return to the top-flight. “I’m playing week in, week out, and I'm the captain here.

“The fans love me, and I've got a good relationship with them, because I love them. And we're doing well, too.

“I’m very happy here. You hear things, you hear rumours and stuff, but I’m a young player and I need to be playing football at a good club - and that’s what this is.

“This is the right club for me at the right time. We have a huge fan base, an amazing manager, and this club is massive. It has so much history.”

Lascelles did not start the opening game of the season against Tottenham, but he found himself promoted from the bench after Paul Dummett suffered an early injury and did not look back for the remainder of the campaign.

He emerged as the linchpin of the Newcastle defence, with his leadership qualities and astute positioning proving extremely important as the Magpies conceded just 47 goals from their 38 league games.

On the pitch, he has improved markedly since he arrived from Nottingham Forest, while off it, he has developed into the figurehead of a squad that earned the respect of admiration of the Newcastle fans.

“Overall, it’s been an unreal season as far as I’m concerned, both for me personally, and more importantly for the club,” said Lascelles. “As captain, I want to see how far we can go - and potentially take this club back to where it belongs.”

* Matz Sels has been named in Belgium’s provisional 28-man squad for this summer’s World Cup finals.

The Newcastle goalkeeper, who has spent the season on loan at Belgian club Anderlecht, is yet to make his senior international debut, but will hope to impress Belgium boss Roberto Martinez during a warm-up game against Portugal.

Sels is battling against Wolfsburg’s Koen Casteels for the right to accompany Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet in Belgium’s final 23-man squad.