The 21-year-old started the season in the club’s academy and made his Magpies debut in the League Cup against Nottingham Forest in August. After a disappointing defeat in that game, the midfielder was sent back to the youth ranks – with that chance of first-team action surely motivating him to get better.
A breakthrough moment came later in the year in December, when Rafael Benitez decided to use the youngster as a substitute against Liverpool, which was followed by two appearances in the FA Cup against Blackburn – where he really started to impress.
This led to the Spaniard giving Longstaff the opportunity to prove he could cut it in the Premier League, a chance he grasped with both hands. The midfield starlet quickly became a mainstay at St James’ Park, starting in eight consecutive top-flight fixtures.
That joy quickly turned to disappointment as the 21-year-old picked up an injury against West Ham causing him to miss the last couple of months. Despite this, Premier League giants Manchester United were reported to hold a strong interest in Longstaff and were plotting a £25million bid.
The Chronicle have reported that no bid has yet to be placed to Newcastle, who expect Longstaff to return to the pre-season training. The Magpies must use this time to convince the youngster that St James’ Park is where he should be next season and promise him a pivotal role in the side – no matter who the manager is.
Longstaff must be given assurances that he will be an ever-present force next season, especially with Isaac Hayden expected to leave the club.
If you exclude Hayden from the side last season, the 21-year-old was Benitez’ top performer in midfield and highlighted his importance to the team. Analysing his stats via WhoScored, Longstaff averaged 1.7 dribbles per-game, as well as making 1.9 tackles and 1.1 interceptions on average.
A move to Manchester would be too early for the midfield maestro this early in his career, and he must put that to the back of his mind and concentrate on the Magpies for the near future.
With the youngster still recovering from injury, everyone involved at Newcastle must hope that he will be prepared to stay in the North East next season, in a place where he could easily become a club legend.