When Jetro Willems teed the ball off to Matty Longstaff on the edge of the box, the cries from the roaring St. James’ Park crowd urged the 19-year-old midfielder to have a crack at goal.
Often times such calls result in a player ballooning the ball into the stratosphere.
Against Manchester United in early October, this didn’t happen though. Not only did Longstaff set himself up perfectly to have a pop, he hit an excellent daisy-cutter which nestled in the bottom left corner of the net.
What a strike! A Premier League debut goal for Matty Longstaff… Against Manchester United!
— 90min (@90min_Football) October 6, 2019
With one goal, Matty Longstaff had become an instant hero for the Magpies – the sky was seemingly the limit.
Fast forward to February however, and he’s made just seven Premier League outings, with Steve Bruce feeling the need to sign
“It’s a concern for us all, of course it is. I hope we can get that tied up, I really do. But they’ve got the power these days, the players. We see it often now, with young players as well. I hope there’s a bit of common sense. There’s nobody, at 19, played more games than him,” Bruce said.
What is clear is that he’s held in high regard at St. James’ Park, even if Bentaleb’s arrival could minimise his gametime even further.
In the era of austerity under Mike Ashley, when recruitment has been
With his Premier League career still in its infancy, Longstaff possesses all the traits needed to be a top level footballer. Firstly, determination and fight spring to mind when his name is mentioned.
Running his socks off each and every time he takes to the turf, through sheer power of will he stands out from the crowd. And on top of that, he’s actually quite good at playing football too.
Working as one half of a central midfield partnership, Longstaff finds himself playing in a more box-to-box role. Being allowed the freedom to get stuck in, close forwards down and make strides with the ball, he’s constantly improving his all-round play with each week, learning – in particular – how to defend where, coincidentally, is where Italian football comes in.
Famed for its defensive structure, much of Serie A is based on nullifying opposing attacks and cutting off supply lines both when in and out of possession. For this alone, Longstaff would be well suited.
If he were to join AC Milan, he’d be doing so with the club at one of its lowest ebbs in its history. Their current plight is a sad state of affairs for the seven-time Champions League winners, so the entrance door to join one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs has been opened significantly wider over recent seasons. It is in no disrespect to then suggest Longstaff could play at San Siro. His style would bed in nicely, he’s demonstrated that he’s ready to work hard in and out of possession so, you know, why not? He’s certainly better than some other players at the club at the moment.
Inter, on the other hand, are a different proposition. The club are certainly on the up under Antonio Conte, fighting for the Scudetto once again and actively backing their manager in the transfer market. They’ve obviously seen something in Longstaff.
Does that mean the move is right at this point in time? Perhaps not. With less than ten senior appearances to his name, it would be an almighty step up to join the Nerazzurri. It’s a proposition he may already be considering, but one that may have come too early on in his young career.
Longstaff shouldn’t jump the gun and leave the Premier League just yet. Learning his trade at his hometown club, away from the spotlight, where he will be allowed the opportunity to make mistakes and grow as a player, is the best bet for the youngster.
Longstaff is a fine player in the making.
Could he cut it in Milan? Quite possibly. Should he see if he can cut it in Milan in the summer? Not just yet.