Newcastle United’s academy hasn’t produced much in the way of top quality Premier League stars over the years, but that could all be about to change. 21-year-old Geordie lad Sean Longstaff hit the first team two months ago when he was called upon due to a lengthy injury list for Rafael Benitez. Since then, he has been nothing short of exceptional.
Longstaff made his Premier League debut for the Magpies off the bench in their 4-0 defeat at Anfield in December. He followed it up by scoring a goal in the FA Cup third round replay against Blackburn at Ewood Park two weeks later, before being handed his full Premier League debut at Stamford Bridge three days after.
He’s been a mainstay in the team since then and that is despite the fact that Mo Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Seung-Yeung have all returned to the squad. Alongside a rejuvenated Isaac Hayden, the pair have fashioned quite the partnership. Following Newcastle’s mightily impressive 2-1 home victory over champions Manchester City, the Sky Blues boss hailed the duo stating that his side “could not deal with the Newcastle holding midfielders.’ Quite the praise for an Arsenal reject an academy graduate less than a month after his professional debut.
Last night, in yet another man of the match performance from the youngster, he bagged his first Premier League goal in front of his home crowd. The Magpies would run out 2-0 winners over relegation rivals Burnley which sees Benitez’s men move seven points clear of the relegation zone.
With the arrival of Miguel Almiron, attention has been very focused on the Paraguayan, deservedly so too as he’s put in two outstanding performances already. However, with his goal last night, Longstaff managed to nab all the headlines this time. His form has been impressive enough to earn speculation over whether or not he should be called up to England with some comparing him to West Ham United and now England starlet, Declan Rice. Extraordinarily, others have been comparing his performances and style of play to that of fellow Geordie, Michael Carrick.
As a lifelong Newcastle fan, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see one of our own bossing the midfield in Premier League games. We haven’t seen any of our academy boys break into the team like this in quite some time, the last one was probably Paul Dummett. This lad is on a different level and given some time, proper nurturing and continued coaching from Benitez, he could go on to be one hell of a player.
Next up for the Magpies is a trip to the London Stadium on Saturday evening. Rafa and his side will be hoping to avenge a humiliating 3-0 hammering at St James’ Park back in early December.