We do love our own on Tyneside, don’t we? Coming through the academy, pulling on the famous black and white, and achieving the life-long dream of playing in front of more than 50,000 at St James’ Park. When Sean Longstaff did just that, every Magpie around the world felt a sense of pride.
The 21-year-old had played his way through the youth set-up before making his debut for the first-team against Liverpool last December. His rise since then has been meteoric and understandably has seen some of the Premier League’s big boys sniffing around. Whilst the money we could get from Manchester United may be huge, it simply wouldn’t make sense from a footballing aspect to let go of Longstaff just yet.
According to Sky Sports, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are interested in adding young, home-grown talent to their squad and see Longstaff as a potential option to add to their squad. At the moment, it appears the club have denied any approach for the midfielder, and with a new long-term contract signed back in December that extended his time at the club until 2022, we’re in a strong position to negotiate in any deal.
Longstaff enjoyed an incredible break-through season at the club, and it was his performances against the top sides in the league that really underlined how much potential he has. In fact, such was his powerful box-to-box performances for the side, that he outran every other player on the pitch in his first five Premier League starts. His ability to pick out a pass and keep cool in possession even saw Rafa Benitez acknowledge the comparisons to former Magpies midfielder Michael Carrick; but the Spaniard was keen to insist that Longstaff had more to his game.
He said (via Sky Sports): “I can see that. but at this stage Sean has more mobility and plenty of stamina. Certainly he has the technique and can use both feet well.” Whilst on loan at Blackpool last season, Longstaff showed he could be a real goal-threat from midfield, and ended up notching eight strikes in 42 games in League One. Despite the huge step up in quality to the top-flight, the midfielder has looked well at ease and could be the heartbeat of our side for the rest of his career.
His former boss at Bloomfield Road, Gary Bowyer remarked: “It is fantastic when you see people who you have worked with kick on and achieve the success that he is achieving right now. He has a fantastic engine and great fitness levels but it was his goal return from midfield that was outstanding. He had this unbelievable knack for shooting and being successful at it so we encouraged it.”
The room for Longstaff to grow is scary. With such limited time in the first-team, he has already become one of our most important players. A move to one of the big sides not just in England but potentially in Europe may well be on the horizon for him, but this summer, it is so important that we keep a hold of him and reject any kind of advances. In this modern world of inflated transfers, another season or two in our midfield could see Longstaff’s value rise exponentially.
The club has regretted cashing in on players before, so it’s about time we put our foot down and stand firm on ‘one of our own’ this time around.