Though Matty Longstaff was handed his first start of the season in the damp squib of a loss to Manchester City on Boxing Day, the Sun report the youngster could soon head out on loan.
What’s the story?
Writing on page 56 of Sunday’s print edition, Alan Nixon has revealed the 20-year-old is a target for a number of Championship clubs in the January transfer window on a potential loan deal and would like to depart.
Previously, East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest and Derby have both been linked with a move for him after a difficult time of it on Tyneside. Despite eventually penning a new two-year deal after initially leaving St. James’ Park in the summer, Steve Bruce has largely kept him away from the first-team.
Is it a good idea to loan him out?
Newcastle’s lack of dynamism in central midfield has been a key issue this season and it’s a wonder as to why Longstaff has not been able to play his way into an area of the pitch clearly struggling.
Last season, he looked like an energetic option capable of pushing on and assisting the strikers – something none of the current lot operating in the centre of the park have been able to do. Indeed, according to Understat, he recorded the highest expected goals per 90 of any midfielder in the squad (0.11) which, though not exactly prolific, would still rank first in that department this season.
The Chronicle also pointed out how he put in an impressive performance away at the Etihad, recording the highest passing average of any of his teammates (90%), won the highest number of successful ground duels (4/7) and only last possession three times, the 11th lowest out of 13 Newcastle players.
So, while it’s only one performance this season, his showing in Manchester and his exploits last time out do suggest he’s capable of offering something to this team.
However, if he’s not going to play regularly and Newcastle potentially look to strengthen in midfield (though it’s not clear if there will be any money available to do so) then there’s little point in him sitting on the bench. If Bruce continues to leave him out, a loan move is surely best for his development.
Longstaff should be given a chance in the Newcastle midfield. Frankly, it’s not as if it’s an area of the pitch performing all too well at the moment and perhaps the exuberance of youth can freshen things up somewhat, as Arsenal proved against Chelsea.
Still, for him personally, the idea of first-team football must be tempting were he to temporarily depart considering his lack of genuine involvement since committing his future to his boyhood club.