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Opinion

Mike Ashley willing to sell Sean Longstaff is least of our worries

3 years ago
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All the headlines are now about Sean Longstaff leaving.

With Ayoze Perez sold on for £30m this week, the 21 year old Geordie midfielder is allegedly the one we have to now worry about.

The Chronicle saying that the midfielder isn’t for sale, only for the next second to state that Mike Ashley’s valuation means Manchester United (or whoever) would have to pay more than was received (£35m) for Andy Carroll.

Elsewhere, other media have claimed Man Utd are willing to pay as much as £50m for Sean Longstaff.

These are indeed crazy times (in the transfer market and football generally, NUFC/Ashley don’t quite have a total monopoly, yet) but I think for all kinds of reasons, losing Longstaff is the least of our worries as Newcastle fans.

For starters, the Mancs did pay a crazy £50m for Aaron Wan-Bissaka but he has made 42 Premier League starts and got rave reviews throughout last season.

On the other hand, whilst Sean Longstaff undoubtedly did well, the fact is he has still only started eight PL matches and I do question whether anybody would pay so much based on so little evidence. Particularly when Mike Ashley will hold out for top dollar, thinking that if nobody will go beyond ‘only’ £25m/£30m, then he could get double that in a year’s time if the young midfielder continued the early promise f those eight PL starts.

Far more of a worry for me, is that Mike Ashley may not be so hesitant with the players who were the cornerstone of Newcastle’s relative ‘success’ last season, especially if they are sickened by what is going on under this owner, which is very very likely to be the case.

Martin Dubravka – Having turned 30 and getting great accolades the past 18 months, his agents said during the season that other clubs had registered an interest and separate to that, they expected a new more lucrative contract to be negotiated this summer after he had done the business on the pitch. No new contract so far and after paying only £4m, it is a knocking bet that Ashley will see every reason now to cash in on a player who is already in his thirties and his value unlikely ever to be  higher.

Fabian Schar – A very similar story, only cost £3m last summer and he will turn 28 in December. His classy performances last season produced many claims of top clubs watching him and once again a nightmare scenario for Newcastle fans, a very good player surely wondering what is the point of stopping at Newcastle and at the same time Mike Ashley seeing it an optimum time to cash in.

Jamaal Lascelles – Turns 26 in November and if he has any ambition will definitely be wondering what to do. You can say all the right things but I can quite imagine that if say Maguire goes to Man Utd for very silly money (£70m+), Leicester could well come knocking and Ashley seeing the chance to grab a large chunk (£30m+) of what the Foxes bank. Another dream for the NUFC owner, spending a combined £5m/£6m on Perez and Lascelles and potentially banking £60m+ for the pair.

If these three above all left, or even a couple of them, it would surely be absolute curtains for Newcastle, even if belatedly some half decent savings came in.

With Rondon and Perez gone, who scored 23 of Newcastle’s 42 PL goals last season, to then lose the heart of the defence/goalkeeper, replacing/rebuilding all of that would be far too much to do in such a tight timeline, even if Mike Ashley suddenly accepted the urgent need to spend. To top it off, we already knew that Isaac Hayden needs to leave for family reasons.

Rather than building on the small group of quality players Newcastle did have, there is every chance of most of them walking away.

What are we left with otherwise?

There is the grit and determination of Ritchie and Dummett, then relying  on Lejeune coming back from a second serious operation, the promise of Longstaff and the same with Almiron who is still adapting to the Premier League. Far too much reliance put on those last two and it could have such an adverse effect.

Keeping your best players (and manager…) helps attract other quality players, if you are willing to allow investment in the squad.

Actively selling/allowing to leave the likes of Rafa, Perez and Rondon, simply means others will be tempted to follow.

Then with Mike Ashley seeing only pound signs in front of his eyes, it is a poisonous combination.

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