This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Over the course of the summer transfer window, Manchester United’s pursuit of Sean Longstaff hit the headlines. The Newcastle prospect had just enjoyed a breakthrough campaign, making nine appearances in the Premier League, and had earned huge comparisons with Michael Carrick.
But after reportedly being quoted £50m for his signature, the Red Devils walked away from a potential swoop, and failed to sign another central midfielder in the end. The man to benefit the most from that decision? Scott McTominay. The Scotland international has been an ever-present in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side this season, featuring in all seven Premier League games this season.
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On Sunday, the duo are likely to line up in the middle of midfield for their respective sides. And for McTominay in particular, it is a chance to really under-line why the Red Devils made the right choice not to replace him this summer.
Both Longstaff and McTominay make up one half of the midfield two for their respective sides, and there is an all-action element to their games.
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While their key passes and tackles per game are quite similar, it is in the other main categories outlined in the graphic however, that the United midfielder really has the edge.
The 22-year-old makes more than double the amount of interceptions as his Magpies counterpart, whilst he also registers 18 more passes per game too. The passing numbers are perhaps always likely to be skewed in the Red Devils’ favour however, due to their superior possession (they average 54.5% compared to Newcastle’s measly 37.6%).
If McTominay can use his 6 foot 4 frame to dominate the centre of midfield, then Longstaff will struggle considerably in getting a foothold in the game for the Magpies. The former displayed his attacking credentials with a fine strike against Arsenal on Monday night, and will surely be heading into the contest with a bounce in his step.
At St James’ Park this weekend, the Scot has the perfect opportunity to really hammer home that it was a blessing in disguise that United opted against a move for Longstaff. And if his start to the season is anything to go by, then he will do exactly that.