Steve Bruce should look to unleash Matty Longstaff following the international break in the hopes of convincing Miguel Almiron to stay at Newcastle United for the long-term.
Speaking with Paraguayan radio station ABC Cardinal on Friday, Almiron fuelled speculation that he could look to secure a move away from St James’ Park in the near future.
The 27-year-old has admitted that he would like to play for a club who carry a greater fight in their performances, as he became the latest Toon player to seemingly criticise recent results.
Ciaran Clark had revealed earlier in the week that the United squad “weren’t up for it” during last weekend’s 3-0 mauling by relegation rivals Brighton & Hove Albion, as the Magpies’ torrid run of form stretched to two wins in 18 Premier League games.
Almiron has now fuelled speculation that he may look to secure a move away from Tyneside after his agent Daniel Campos claimed the midfielder would already have been sold amid interest from Atletico Madrid had it not been for the global pandemic.
“I would like to play in a team that fights more,” Almiron said. “Here, I am happy, and I feel comfortable.”
Campos had noted earlier in the season that Almiron may look to join a team who play a different brand of football than Newcastle, and could chase a transfer in June.
“Miguel’s work rate at Newcastle and Paraguay has been great,” Campos told Futgol 970 in November, via quotes shared by Chronicle Live. “If it wasn’t for the pandemic, he would’ve been elsewhere. Perhaps he would like to play on a team that has a lot of possession. Maybe in June, he’ll make that jump.”
Almiron claiming that he would like to play in a side which carries more fight, just after Clark admitted that Newcastle rolled over against Brighton, will be a bitterly concerning update for Bruce.
Newcastle have established themselves as a team which plays on the back foot throughout the Premier League season, with relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion the only side to have averaged a lower share of possession per game (41.4%) than the Magpies (42%) to date.
Only Burnley (71.6%) and the Baggies (73.1%) retain possession at a lower standard than the Toon, who hold a 75.3% pass success rate, while Bruce’s men rank 14th in the division for tackles made per game with 14, per WhoScored.
All the indications point to a style of football not to Almiron’s preference, but Bruce can look to impress the Paraguayan coming out of the international break by unleashing Longstaff to add more bite to the engine room.
Longstaff has only played 377 minutes in the Premier League this season, despite Bruce assuring the 21-year-old of his path to the first team last summer and many considering the academy graduate to be the aggressive presence which Newcastle currently lack.
Former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson also claimed that Longstaff “would be a good addition for any team” last summer amid the midfielder’s contract stand-off, while later noting that he is already a “top player” but is “going to go on to become a better player”.
However, Longstaff’s development has stagnated massively this season due to his limited chances under Bruce, but he will still be expected to add bite to the engine room against Tottenham Hotspur next Sunday and show Almiron what some in the Newcastle squad are capable of producing.