The emergence of the Longstaff brothers at Newcastle United has underlined their ability to bring through Premier League talent from the academy, but not everyone can be an immediate success story.
With the Premier League on hold until April 30th at the very earliest, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on players from the past who have moved on to pastures new.
One player who never quite made it at St James’ Park is Adam Armstrong. The versatile forward moved to Blackburn Rovers in August 2018 for a fee of just £1.71m and he has since begun to develop into a decent player at Championship level.
With that in mind, Football FanCast analyse his career so far and assess how far he’s gone since swapping the North East for Lancashire…
Armstrong came through the Magpies’ youth system and posted some impressive numbers at U23 level, bagging 17 goals and five assists in just 26 appearances.
At international level, too, he was relatively prolific for the youth sides – ten goals in 12 for the U17s and seven in 13 for the U20s gave fans ample reason for excitement regarding his future.
But the step up to senior level was far from a seamless tale of goal scoring prowess. In fact, Armstrong failed to notch a single goal for the senior side from a total of 21 appearances, though just four of those were starts.
In the 2017/18 season, a miserable spell at Bolton Wanderers in the Championship was prematurely cut short in January and the youngster was then immediately offloaded to Blackburn Rovers for the remainder of the season.
His time at Ewood Park proved to be markedly more fruitful as he notched nine goals and provided two assists in 21 appearances, giving Tony Mowbray’s side a much needed boost en route to a 2nd place finish and an immediate return to the second tier.
It was no surprise when Blackburn turned that deal permanent in the summer for a measly fee of just £1.71m, with Rafael Benitez presumably deeming him surplus to requirements.
The former Newcastle prospect hasn’t quite made Newcastle live to regret their decision just yet, but there is evidence to suggest that Armstrong’s career is moving in a positive direction.
He has established a fantastic understanding with Rovers star Bradley Dack, with the pair combining to goal scoring effect on 11 occasions in 82 fixtures.
His first full season as a permanent member of the squad was not exactly prolific but five goals and five assists in 44 Championship appearances suggested that there was more to come.
That feeling turned prophetic in the 2019/20 campaign. Prior to the global pandemic putting football on hold, Armstrong scored 11 goals in 37 Championship appearances to rise to the summit of Blackburn’s goal scoring charts.
A return of six assists proves that he is much more than just a goal scoring poacher, and that is also reflected in his versatility in the forward line. The 23-year-old has played 16 games as a centre-forward, 15 as a right-winger and six as a left-winger in what is proving to be a breakthrough season.
Blackburn are just three points off the playoff places. Could Armstrong return to the Premier League by the time the football season eventually reaches its conclusion?