Newcastle United to 'revisit stalled contract talks
Steve Bruce, we know, is not out of contract at the end of the season.
However, one player’s Newcastle United deal does expire next summer – and it’s time for the club to “revisit” contract talks.
A new contract for midfielder Sean Longstaff has been on the agenda at St James’s Park since early 2019, when he made an impressive first-team breakthrough under Rafa Benitez.
Yet Longstaff, promoted from the the club’s academy three years ago, is still on the same deal he signed before he had made his Premier League debut.
Bruce – who made an admission on his own contract in July following a report that he was set to sign a new three-year deal – was asked about Longstaff’s contractual situation on BBC Radio Newcastle last month, and his reply suggested there was no particular urgency on the club’s part to resolve the situation ahead to the transfer deadline.
"I knew about Sean before I came here,” said Bruce. “There was a contract offered to him, but those talks have not been revisited. We hope he can go out and show us what he's got."
Benitez, now in charge of Everton, had been linked with a move for Longstaff last month, but the 23-year-old remained at United.
And there should now be some more urgency in terms of contract talks, as Longstaff will be able to leave on a free transfer next summer without any agreement. Benitez, among others, will be watching the situation closely.
Longstaff had been a target for Manchester United two years ago while he recovered from a knee injury – the club was prepared to pay £35million for him – but Newcastle made it clear at the time that he was not for sale.
Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Longstaff since then. He has been in and out of the starting under Bruce, and he had a two-month spell out of the team following January’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Longstaff’s late-season return coincided with an upturn in fortunes for United.
Reflecting on his spell out in a programme interview in April, Longstaff, diplomatically, said: "To not be involved for so long was really frustrating.
“Obviously, I have my own views on it, and whether I feel it was right or wrong, (but) it doesn’t really matter. I don’t make the final decision on it. All you can do is keep yourself ready.
"I know that in the two months between starts, I trained really well – probably the best I've trained in the last two years, I would say.
"I know it could have gone one of two ways; either me sort of sack it off – which isn’t the type of person I am, the way I’ve been brought up, or how I do things – or focusing on myself, setting myself little targets every day, and ultimately training to the best of my ability, forcing them to give me a chance.
"If I did get that chance, then brilliant. I was going to try and take it.”
Newcastle now have a opportunity to stop Longstaff leaving for nothing at the end of the season – and the club needs to take that chance.