Isaac Hayden hasn’t been the same since he decided he wanted to leave Newcastle.
The midfielder handed in a transfer request over the summer, then recently reiterated his desire to leave the club despite getting a run in the first team. Minutes were never an issue for Hayden, who wants to move back down south for family reasons.
But with the Magpies’ midfield crisis, the 23-year-old has been forced to play, starting every game since Boxing Day. Other than the draw at Watford, he’s hardly impressed.
Against Chelsea, he was paired with Sean Longstaff, who was making his first Premier League start. The youngster showed a lot more ambition than Hayden, looking to get the ball forward whenever he had the chance. In comparison, Hayden played within himself, doing nothing to endear any potential suitors.
And Longstaff’s performance should move him up the pecking order.
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Last game for Hayden?
Against Blackburn, Newcastle will likely start with the same midfield pair that played against Chelsea.
With Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame still ruled out, Rafa Benitez doesn’t have much choice. But the manager’s words suggest the pair aren’t too far away from a return, which should signal the end of Hayden’s time in the first-team.
Even if he doesn’t leave, Longstaff should now start ahead of the former Arsenal man. He is someone that is hungry and has the desire to play for the club; all the things Hayden doesn’t have.
In the games that matter, Newcastle’s number 14 shouldn’t be playing anymore. The FA Cup replay needs to be a goodbye for him. He needs to be replaced and sold as soon as possible.