CLAUDIO RANIERI wants to swap Fulham captain Tom Cairney for Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey.
Cairney has fallen out of favour with the Craven Cottage boss who has instructed club chiefs to sign a deep-lying midfielder schemer instead.
Toon boss Rafa Benitez is an admirer of Cairney and the club have made offers for him in the past.
Fulham hope they can be tempted to part with England midfielder Shelvey when the January transfer window opens.
If that deal does not come to fruition, Fulham could also swap Cairney, 28, for West Ham’s Pedro Obiang instead.
Ranieri has changed Fulham’s formation to a defensive-minded 5-4-1 and Cairney – who scored the club’s play-off final winner against Aston Villa last May – is no longer a first choice.
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Shelvey, who has suffered a couple of recent injuries, is not an automatic starter at Newcastle, with Ki Sung-Yeung preferred by Benitez, and the Essex boy could be keen to move south.
Yet Benitez might be reluctant to let the 26-year-old Shelvey go early in January with Ki on Asian Cup duty with South Korea.
Cairney tends to play in a more advanced role and Benitez has earmarked him as a potential No 10 for Newcastle.
West Ham might also be willing to recruit Cairney, having failed in a bid for the Scotland international last January.
Obiang, a Spanish-born Guinea international, is not a regular starter for West Ham and so a Cairney swap deal could suit the Hammers also.
Ranieri wants to sign players with Premier League experience but have already reached their limit of two domestic loan players, making Cairney’s January sale even more likely.