Who is Sean Longstaff? An analysis of the Newcastle United midfielder targeted by Manchester United
Sean Longstaff has been linked with a move to Manchester United on a near daily basis since the beginning of the transfer window, and, according to The Telegraph, it seems that the club is finally ready to submit a bid for the player at some point over the course of this week.
Prior to this bit of news though, it's fair to say that Red Devils' fans seem to have had reservations about the player, and many have taken to internet message boards to express concern over the potential deal.
Most seem to be in agreement that moves for Adrien Rabiot (now of Juventus) or Tanguy Ndombele (who looks set to join Tottenham) would have been preferable, and it's hard to argue with the keyboard-warriors as - quite simply - not an awful lot is known about the Geordie.
So, let's take a look and find out exactly who this highly rated lad from North Shields, UK is and try to understand why United's scouting department and coaching staff seem to favor him over some of the continental talents the Old Trafford faithful have been waxing lyrical about.
What type of player is he?
Born October 30th, 1997, the 21-year-old came through the academy at Newcastle United alongside his brother, Matt Longstaff. He primarily operates as a central-midfielder but is capab;e at playing on the left or as an attacking midfielder.
Longstaff is a very well-rounded central midfielder, one who we feel is being severely underrated by many of Manchester United's supporters. He is a player with very high energy levels who loves to put his foot in and win back possession, but he's also a very creative player on the ball; he has an eye for a long range pass, particularly with the high-ball, and he does boast an impressive strike from distance, which has lead to a solid goal-scoring record from the center of the park.
In his short career so far, Longstaff has represented Newcastle United in the EPL, Newcastle United U23s in the Reserve EPL, Blackpool in League 1, and Kilmarnock in the SPL. During his stints at these clubs, the Englishman has chalked up 23 goals and 16 assists in 123 appearances.
Granted, many of these games may not have been at the highest level, but his direct involvement in a goal in just about a third of the matches he plays in is an impressive feat, especially given his defensive output which has never been in question.
Of course, Manchester United fans will be more interested in his performance in the EPL last season since it's here they will most need him to thrive should he end up at the Theater of Dreams, and it's fair to say he boasted some impressive stats in Englands premier league last year, too, with his tackle success rate of 76% actually higher than Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi's (68%).
Perhaps more importantly, the emergence of Longstaff proved to be instrumental in a Newcastle revival that saw the club gradually begin to ebb clear of the relegation zone. The Geordies had lost eight of their first nine games before he began to feature, and once Rafael Benitez identified his talent and threw him in, the Spaniard's side went on a run that saw them win four and draw one in seven games.
Who knows what we would be saying about him now had he not suffered such a severe knee injury against West Ham in February.
What people have said:
Don't just take our word for it, though... clearly his now-former UCL winning manager, Rafael Benitez is a big fan:
“Sean wouldn’t look out of place with England, there are not too many young English players with his quality. I think he will go, he’s doing well and playing in the Premier League."
(Rafael Benitez interview)
“I saw Sean in training [for Newcastle’s Under-23s] and I saw how good he was technically, he was doing right-foot, left-foot finishes into the bottom corner. His vision is good, there are just a few things he has to improve but he listens to us and is learning quickly. He’s someone who is normally calm under pressure and that’s a good thing for a midfielder.”
And, following a defeat at the hands of a Longstaff inspired Newcastle in January, Pep Guardiola had this to say:
"We could not deal with Newcastle’s holding midfielders. We started with the goal but we didn't have the rhythm we need to impose our game. We didn't take the rhythm of the game, it was slow and we weren't aggressive enough."
How would he fit in at Manchester United?
We certainly feel that Longstaff's selfless, all-action performances are exactly what Manchester United need at present, particularly given the recent departure of fan-favorite, Ander Herrera.
He might not have the class of a Paul Pogba or the goalscoring credentials of Sporting's Bruno Fernandes, but this is the player who - with the help of teammate Isaac Hayden - bullied Manchester City's midfielders off the ball. He's a player who is willing to run through brick walls for a team; a grafter with a touch of class and an eye for a killer pass and a goal.
The Red Devils do not currently boast a player of this ilk in their squad, so it's no surprise to see him linked with the move, and Manchester United fans would do well to give the lad a chance should he decide to ply his trade under the lights at Old Trafford.