Sean Longstaff is certainly Newcastle United’s breakout star of the season
Things didn’t look all that bright for Newcastle United during Christmas, with defeats and injuries aplenty. The Magpies’ Premier League fortunes seemed to be hanging by a thread a couple of months back but their recent upturn of form has eased the relegation worries to a large extent.
As things stand, Rafael Benitez’s side currently sit 14th in the standings with 31 points, 6 points clear of Cardiff City in the drop zone.
While Salomon Rondon has been a key contributor with his goals, someone by the name of Sean Longstaff has really made eyeballs turn with his consistently impressive displays in the midfield. In fact, the 21-year-old is eerily similar to Michael Carrick. And it all began with the tough away fixture against Chelsea back in January.
Faced with the absence of seasoned campaigners Mo Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki-Sung Yueng, Benitez was forced to field the duo of Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff to plug the holes in central midfield.
In a game where Newcastle went down 2-1 to the hosts despite putting up a brave fight, Longstaff impressed with his tireless running, tough-tackling and composure on the ball. That was the beginning of Longstaff’s purple patch and he hasn’t looked back since then, starting each of Newcastle’s next seven Premier League fixtures and playing a key role in steering the team to safety, including the winner in the 2-0 triumph over Burnley.
Along with Isaac Hayden, Longstaff has become one of the mainstays of Newcastle’s midfield in recent weeks. The likes of Diame and Shelvey have found it difficult to dislodge the pairing despite regaining full fitness, which lies evidence to the fact that the duo has really grabbed their opportunities with both hands.
With the likes of Longstaff and Hayden adding steel to the central midfield and concentrating on the dirty job, the more attacking players like Ayoze Perez, Miguel Almiron and Salomon Rondon have looked much more of a threat in the final third.
It’s been ages since the Newcastle fans have seen one of their homegrown talents take the Premier League by storm, and that long wait seems to have finally come to an end with the promising displays of Sean Longstaff. The 21-year-old boasts of a pass accuracy percentage of 80.9 in the Premier League this term, including 3.3 successful long balls, 1.9 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game.
While those stats might not flatter too much, few can argue that the English prodigy has made an impact with his intelligent passing, drive and determination, never hesitating to stick his foot out when needed.
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Hayden, on the other hand, has accumulated a goal and three assists in the Premier League this season and has complemented Longstaff really well with the ability to break up the play and carry the ball forward. With Mo Diame reaching the latter stages of his career and Shelvey struggling for form and fitness, Newcastle can definitely rely on the young duo to deliver the goods in the days to come.
West Ham teenager Declan Rice has been one of the breakout stars of the Premier League and Sean Longstaff has already done enough to have his name somewhere in that list.