'Influential' Sean Longstaff has been Newcastle's surprise star so far
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United crosses during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea FC at St. James Park on November 12, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Callis/MB Media/Images)

'Influential' Sean Longstaff has been Newcastle's surprise star so far

Newcastle United have had many star performers this season, but Sean Longstaff has to be the biggest surprise for Toon fans.

The local lad didn’t begin the season in Eddie Howe’s starting XI, but now he is becoming one of our most reliable players.

Longstaff has enjoyed a fantastic first half of the season, and finally looks like the player who first emerged on the scene with Newcastle back in 2019. He looked like a star of the future back then, and it has taken him a long time to return to that level.

But with a lot of hard work, perseverance and patience, Longstaff is very much a key player at St James’ Park right now. And that is huge praise given the level of performance at the club right now and the calibre of our midfielders.

The 25-year-old certainly isn’t out of place, and has impressed former Tottenham defender Michael Dawson.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Michael Dawson’s assessment of Sean Longstaff

The retired centre-back was on Sky Sports News‘ Gillette Soccer Saturday on…Saturday, obviously. He discussed Newcastle’s brilliant form, and heaped praise on Longstaff.

“Longstaff won’t be a name where you go he’s a superstar but he’s becoming that,” he said.

“He’s becoming so influential in Newcastle’s team. We always said when Allan Saint-Maximin wasn’t there, how were they going to win games? How were they going to create?

“[Miguel] Almiron has been brilliant but Longstaff, I love. I love his energy, he’s one of those players that on the eye that you don’t see on the ball. I’ll tell you what, the rest of them players in that Newcastle team will love having him in the team.

“He gets in the mix, he wins the ball back, he plays it forward. Be it [Jacob] Murphy, if it be [Joe] Willock, whoever it may be – he’s the ball-winner. Bruno Guimaraes gets on the ball and looks lovely, great player. But Longstaff is one of those players you need.”

Longstaff is Newcastle’s surprise star so far

Hours after Dawson’s glowing praise, Longstaff backed up the comments with a brilliant performance against Chelsea.

His pressing was spot on, while his endless running played a key role in the latter stages of the game. He also showed his nasty side, putting in some cynical challenges as the game threatened to boil over. It wasn’t pretty, but Newcastle did what they needed to do to preserve their 1-0 lead.

With all the money spent, it was easy to assume that Longstaff would fade into the background. But the complete opposite has happened.

Instead, he is a key player for Howe. His work off the ball is fantastic, and it allows those around him to flourish. And with each passing game, you can see his confidence growing.

As Dawson says, the rest of the Newcastle team must love playing alongside Longstaff for the work he does. It isn’t glamorous, but it is essential.

It feels like Longstaff never will get the true recognition he deserves. He will never be considered a superstar. But the fact remains that Newcastle are third in the league, and Longstaff has started 11 out of 15 games.

The proof is in the pudding, and for all of Newcastle’s brilliant performers, Longstaff is the biggest surprise of them all. And long may it continue.