Manchester United continue to be linked to Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attempts to stamp his identity on the current squad. The Mirror report that the Red Devils are closing in on a £25 million deal to bring the 21-year-old to Old Trafford. Although this information goes against quotes from the player who stated that he was happy at his hometown club, despite the rumours.
It will be difficult for Manchester United to complete a deal currently, due to the uncertainty at Newcastle. It seems unlikely that the North East club will agree to a sale until the picture regarding the manager and ownership becomes clearer. That said, Solskjaer will be hoping that the uncertainty could help a deal, especially if Rafa Benitez doesn’t sign a new deal on Tyneside.
Some will be surprised at Manchester United’s insistence of doing a deal for a player relatively untested at the highest level. He did well during his breakthrough season, playing a pivotal role in his team’s recovery, but he did only feature in nine Premier League games. A highlight of that run came against Manchester City, as Newcastle managed to win the eventual champions. During the post match interviews, he and his midfield partner Isaac Hayden were praised by Pep Guardiola, which highlights the influence he had in the match.
As a player, the comparisons to fellow Geordie and former Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick are fair ones. It is likely that the current coach at Old Trafford may have had a part to play in Longstaff being identified as a potential target. He averaged 3 ball recoveries per game last season, albeit the sample size is a small one. The most impressive part of his game was his ability to recycle possession and play positive passes in transition.
Manchester United will need to add midfield options to their squad this summer, following the departures that have happened. Ander Herrera will be a huge miss in the centre of the park, as he often displayed the battling the technical qualities required to star for the club. Longstaff is not at that level yet, but he could quickly reach those heights.
The summer so far suggests that Solskjaer wants to introduce a British core to his squad, with the potential to develop as a team. This is at odds from the previous strategy of signing established high-profile players. However, it could be a fruitful one if the right players are brought in and given a fair chance to establish themselves at arguably Britain’s biggest club.
Although Longstaff isn’t a name that will excite supporters, he is a player with huge potential and Manchester United have displayed good scouting to identify him as a future star. They will realise that his value will be at an all-time low now due to his lack of experience. If a deal can’t be done, his price could be doubled next season.