While reports around Newcastle’s potential takeover have dominated the headlines over recent weeks, there is still the small matter of Matty Longstaff’s future at the club that needs resolving.
The midfielder’s contract will be up at the end of the season, and despite the Magpies offering him new and improved terms, he still hasn’t put pen to paper at St James’ Park.
If rumours are to be believed, the 20-year-old could end up moving abroad this summer, with Italian side Udinese reportedly interested in his services.
However, one reputable Newcastle journalist believes that if Longstaff moves to Udinese, he may end up back in England sooner rather than later.
Due to Udinese’s links to Watford via both clubs being owned by the Pozzo family, it has been speculated that the midfielder could be quickly loaned to the Hornets should he sign for the Serie A outfit on a free.
Athletic journalist Chris Waugh believes that these suggestions could have some weight, stating that there’s a good chance that Longstaff could end up at Vicarage Road via Italy.
“I think there’s a fair chance that, if he goes to Udinese, at some point he would end up at Vicarage Road.” Waugh wrote.
“As for what he makes of Watford, I don’t think he’ll be particularly impressed. If anything, though, if Watford are relegated, maybe that would increase the prospects of him playing regularly there.”
Seeing Longstaff playing in England via a move to Italy would be heart-wrenching for Newcastle in more ways than one.
Firstly, it’s never nice losing a highly-rated academy prospect under any circumstances, especially when he’s a local lad whose brother also plays for the club, but there are also financial implications to consider.
If a player under the age of 23 moves to another club within England then the club he’s departing are owed compensation relative to the player’s market value. Perhaps the most famous example of this was when Liverpool had to pay £8m to Burnley when they signed Danny Ings after his contract expired at Turf Moor.
However, when a player goes abroad, the club he joins only have to compensate the club based on the amount it cost them to train and educate them, which is usually a much lower fee, for example, Celtic only paid Fulham £500k after signing Moussa Dembele on a free, despite Tottenham offering £4m for him just a few months prior.
A move to Watford via Udinese looks like an instance of the Pozzo family exploiting a loophole in the system, and Newcastle stand to lose out because of it.