With the prospective Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund takeover rumbling on at St James’ Park, it is easy to be distracted from the on-pitch action, especially considering Newcastle have already assured their Premier League status for next season.
However, there is another off-field matter this club is currently trying to sort, which should not be overlooked. Academy graduate Matty Longstaff’s contract with the club is coming to an end, and despite offers, he is yet to agree on a new deal.
It would be a terrible shame to watch the prospect flourish elsewhere, after such a fleeting glimpse on Tyneside, given he only made his debut earlier this season. Who could forget his stunning winner against Manchester United? That debut strike was the perfect way to introduce yourself to the Toon Army, but there is a chance it could be the high point of his career in the northeast.
Former Irish footballer, Ciaran Kelly agrees and has expressed his concern that we may be witnessing the final appearances for Longstaff in the famous black and white shirt.
What did he say?
Speaking to the Everything is Black and White podcast about the Watford encounter, Kelly said: “He should be getting minutes in a game like this, particularly in the middle of the park where they were struggling so much.”
“It just adds another layer of intrigue to another saga, and at the moment, you’re wondering is it going to result in him staying at Newcastle, and the longer it goes on you’re thinking he’s going to leave and that would be a real shame,” added Kelly.
A step too far
For the last two matches against Manchester City and Watford Steve Bruce has opted to deploy Fabian Schar out of position in a central midfield role. As Kelly mentioned, during the game, Newcastle struggled to create threatening opportunities despite having kept 52 per cent of the ball.
The Switzerland international was outstanding in a defensive capacity, contributing a team-high four interceptions, along with three clearances. However, Schar failed to offer much creatively playing no key passes, and Longstaff will have been frustrated watching a defender occupy his role.
At 20-years-old Longstaff is the youngest member of Newcastle’s Premier League squad, he is arguably the brightest prospect for the future and one of only four academy graduates who’ve appeared in the top-flight this season.
Bruce has said that the club have offered him a “fantastic” deal, but the midfielder is yet to sign. Unfortunately at the moment Kelly is right, the longer the saga runs, the more it appears the writing is on the wall for Longstaff’s departure and playing Schar out of position ahead of him is unlikely to help the situation.