By 90Min
February 25, 2019

Back in January, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was reflecting on his side's shock 2-1 loss to Newcastle United - a side, at the time, that was 17th in the Premier League.

Among the comments from the Spaniard in his post-match press conference, one in particular stood out.

The holding midfielders in question that day? Isaac Hayden, and 21-year-old Sean Longstaff.

It's sort of baffling to think about Pep's comments. Newcastle bought Hayden for £2.6m from Arsenal's U23 squad, whilst Longstaff came through the Magpies' academy. That night they were charged with harassing, hurrying and hunting City's combined midfield might of Kevin De Bruyne (£55m), David Silva (£25m) and Fernandinho (£34m) - not to mention the potent attacking trio of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. 


And, despite Newcastle conceding the fastest goal of the Premier League season (Aguero struck after 24 seconds), the pair produced a resolute, composed performance that had many, including Guardiola, effusive in praise for the duo.

But it was Longstaff who really shone that night, and has continued to do so ever since.

Stu Forster/GettyImages

It was the North Shields youngster who won the ball from Fernandinho and was consequently fouled, setting up Matt Ritchie to convert the winning penalty. 

In recent matches against Spurs, Wolves, and Huddersfield, Longstaff has continued to impress, using his physicality (he boasts a 75% tackle success rate) and impressive passing ability, as well as his composure on the ball, to turn heads and draw praise from manager Rafa Benitez.

"Talking with Sean he is fine and he is mature enough. He is somebody who will continue to get better because he listens to you and works hard. He's very humble," Benitez told the Chronicle

But Benitez isn't the only one impressed with Longstaff's rise.



It's quite incredible to think that Newcastle's academy produced what appears to be a future England international in Longstaff, considering Mike Ashley's lack of investment in the club.

Yes, it's way too early to talk about him for a senior international call-up, but England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd was present at St. James' Park on Sunday to watch Longstaff dominate Huddersfield and nearly score a sublime effort from outside the box, and it seems to be a question of if, and not when, he gets the call-up.

Addressing his incredible season, Longstaff told the Chronicle: "This year has been a bit of a shock. Inside I always felt that if I got my chance I was good enough to take it.

"I have been pretty lucky in terms of Ki [Sung-yueng] going away to the Asian Games and obviously Jonjo [Shelvey] and Mo [Diame] got knocks as well which gave me an opportunity.

"Luck, in sport, is all you need sometimes. I have enjoyed every minute and I know they are coming back now so the competition is going to be there for places but I think that is good for the team."

Longstaff has only featured in six Premier League games for the Magpies, racking up one assist, but much more telling is the impact he's had in national media, with coaches, and with the Toon Army itself. With a raucous crowd inside St. James' Park beginning to chant, 'Sean Longstaff, he's one of our own!', the sky is the limit for the youngster. 

One can only hope be brings Newcastle with him on his meteoric rise.

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