What Adam Armstrong said before leaving Newcastle United
Another one that got away?
Newcastle United will profit from the deal – a 40% sell-on clause was agreed with Blackburn Rovers when Armstrong was sold three years ago – but many fans are asking if the club would be better off with Armstrong – and his goals – than money.
Armstrong left St James’s Park three years ago in a £1.75million move following a successful half-season loan at Ewood Park.
That summer, Armstrong had reported back to the club hoping for chance under then-manager Rafa Benitez.
Armstrong was buoyed by a late call-up to England’s Under-21 squad for the Toulon Tournament, which was won by Aidy Boothroyd’s side.
Then 21, he was one of the players who spoke to the media at a training camp in Ireland.
“I’ve got over 100 games now, and I’m still 21,” said Armstrong at the time. “I think that’s pretty crazy to have that many games. I’ve still got two years here, and I’m working hard every day. I just want to get as high as I possibly can, and keep on doing well.
"Alan Pardew gave me a chance when I was 16/17, and I’ve kicked on from there, I think. I’ve learnt a lot. It was nice to get those games at that age. I’m ready to push on and show what I can do.”
Asked if he knew what the future held for him, he added: “It hasn’t got to that stage – yet.
“I’ve just come back. I’m just working hard every day trying to impress him. Obviously, if it doesn’t work out here, I could maybe go on loan again.”
Within weeks, Armstrong was gone – for good. Armstrong never got to show what he could do at St James’s Park. But he did get to do just that at Ewood Park.
In total, Armstrong scored 58 league goals for Blackburn, with 28 of those strikes having come last season, and Southampton were among the clubs to to take notice of his goalscoring exploits.
Speaking after the deal was completed, Ralph Hasenhuttl, the club’s manager, said: “He’s a young, dynamic player who has developed well so far, and already has good experience, as well as an impressive goalscoring record, and I believe we can now help him realise even more of his potential.”
But should Armstrong have realised his potential at United?
Armstrong, certainly, is the kind of player Steve Bruce could use. The boyhood United fan is pacy, dynamic, versatile – and a threat in front of goal. He can get in behind and unsettle teams.
However, the Armstrong that signed for Southampton is a very different Armstrong to the one sold by Benitez, who needed to raise funds at the time.
Moving to Blackburn to play for Tony Mowbray – he had also played for him at Coventry – was the best thing for a player who just needed more first-team football. He’s matured and developed, and there’s more to come from him.
Newcastle fans got a few glimpses of Armstrong at senior level – he came off the bench in a Tyne-Wear derby – but he wasn’t ready for regular Premier League football at the time.
Armstrong, certainly, is ready now.