Matty Longstaff’s contract expiring has been largely overshadowed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed prospective Newcastle United takeover pull out. Nevertheless, it is still desperately sad to see the 20-year-old depart after his debut campaign at St James’ Park. Few, if any, academy graduates have made such an incredible impression on their Premier League debut for the Magpies as the jr Longstaff brother when he fired in a long-range winner against Manchester United.
Since his compelling debut, Longstaff has made five more Premier League starts and 15 appearances in all competitions this term, yielding three goals. It was an incredibly impressive introduction to life on Tyneside, which has been tainted by his early departure. There is still a slim chance Longstaff could stay on next term, but he would have to sign the deal Newcastle have tabled.
However, Udinese and Leeds United are two other potential destinations which the midfielder has been linked with. The Italian club have reportedly offered the 20-year-old a £30k a week contract in an attempt to lure Longstaff to Serie A.
The likely departure of Longstaff highlights a more significant issue for Newcastle though, in the fact that he was one of just four academy graduates to feature in the Premier League last term. His brother Sean Longstaff was another, along with Paul Dummett and the returning Andy Carroll, who has spent his most productive years away from St James’ Park and failed to score last season.
Remarkably few players in recent years have progressed from the academy to become genuine first-team contenders, and the Longstaff brothers represent a large proportion of those seven players. Matty is officially no longer a Newcastle player, just months after making his debut for the Magpies. It is a rarity that academy graduates make it through to the first-team squad at St James’ Park and the fact he has been allowed to leave for nothing so shortly after is incredibly disappointing.
Kelland Watts was handed his debut against Liverpool on the final day of the Premier League season, and he is the latest in the list of academy players to make their debut for the Magpies. It is vitally important that Matty Longstaff’s situation is not repeated and more Newcastle prospects are allowed to depart before realising their potential at the club.