Longstaff’s youth and energy can inspire United to their former glories
Amid all the talk of Paul Pogba and his future, one man who has seemingly slipped under the Manchester United radar has been Ander Herrera. The Spaniard confirmed his departure from the club after a five-year stay earlier this month, and whilst many United fans may not miss his footballing ability as much, his work ethic and never-say-die attitude certainly made him an unsung hero. But if reports are to be believed, the Red Devils have already turned their attention towards the future. Step up, Sean Longstaff.
According to The Telegraph earlier this week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are ready to make an opening bid for the Magpies midfielder, and that ‘developments are expected over the next few days’. The 21-year-old has enjoyed his breakthrough year in the Newcastle first-team this campaign, and was awarded with a bumper four-year contract last November. It has been a meteoric rise for Longstaff, but he has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.
His composure and assurance on the ball have been remarkable, but as United fans will attest to, they already have a Pogba on their hands. But therein lies the difference. For all of his technical quality, Longstaff has embraced the fundamentals under Rafa Benitez; working for the team, relentless running and putting the team first. Those three traits alone would endear him as an Old Trafford darling, for whom seeing their ‘Hollywood’ stars work for the cause has become a distant memory.
Indeed, with the departure of Herrera on a free transfer, United will be losing the one midfielder in the squad that seemed to relish the off-the-ball work. The hounding, the snapping into tackles, and put simply, being a right nuisance. He was a dream for his fellow United players, and a nightmare for the opposition. Longstaff would bring all that and much more; a star willing to putting his life on the line for a block at one end, and then racing up the other for a 30-yard thunderbolt.
The 21-year-old’s ability to play the right pass and always looking like he has all the time in the world have naturally drawn comparisons with former United midfielder Michael Carrick. But, whilst Benitez admits that the similarities are there, the Spaniard was keen to point out that his midfield prodigy just has that little bit extra to his game. He said (via The Guardian): “I can see that (the Carrick likeness). But, at this stage, Sean has more mobility and stamina. Certainly he has the technique and he can use both feet as well.”
Valued at £2.25m by Transfermarkt, Longstaff’s star has since continued to rise, and a move to the Theatre of Dreams would hold no fear for him. Whilst his signing would represent an immediate upgrade on Herrera, for United fans, their hope will be that he turns out as the long-term Michael Carrick replacement they have been crying out for so long.
United fans, do you think Longstaff could be the man to lead the side’s midfield for the years to come? If not, why not? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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