Sean Longstaff '100 Per Cent Focused' Amid Manchester United Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2019

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Sean Longstaff of Newcastle looks on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley FC at St. James Park on February 26, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images)
Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Sean Longstaff is aware of interest from Manchester United, but he is also content to continue his development with his boyhood club.

The Newcastle United midfielder, who emerged as a breakout first-team talent this season, discussed United's rumoured interest with NUFC TV (h/t Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard):

"I'm massively flattered to have my name even mentioned in those conversations, but like I said, I'm 100 percent focused on Newcastle and trying to get fit and get back in the team here. ... For me, this is what I've always wanted to do.

"I've always wanted to play for Newcastle, and I've only had a little taste of that, so for me, it's about getting fit as soon as I can and getting back on the pitch for Newcastle and making more memories of the future."

Longstaff is recovering from a knee injury that cut his fine individual campaign short. Before then, the 21-year-old had impressed with his energy, craft and eye for goal.

He'd even drawn favourable comparisons with a former Red Devils midfield fulcrum:

Squawka News @SquawkaNews

Martin Keown on Sean Longstaff: "It's like a Michael Carrick performance. "Everyone is talking about Declan Rice, I think this kid might be better. He looks technically better." https://t.co/wQlNmVsEL4

Those qualities saw him linked with a move to Old Trafford, and the Daily Telegraph's John Percy reported United were ready to test Newcastle's resolve last month.

Meanwhile, Josh Williams of the Manchester Evening News recently detailed the attributes Longstaff could bring to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad. Those qualities include the "ability to break up opposing attacks through aggression, timing and a reading of the game."

United's need for a midfielder with destructive tendencies is obvious after the way Nemanja Matic and Fred both struggled in the holding role this season. Solskjaer can call on the industrious Scott McTominay, but the truth is United need help everywhere across midfield.

Creative talisman Paul Pogba continues to be linked with Real Madrid, with James Nursey of the Daily Mirror reporting manager Zinedine Zidane wants to swap Gareth Bale for the mercurial France international.

United have offered a new contract to Juan Mata, according to BBC Sport, but the Spaniard is 31 and far from the consistent force he once was.

Tom McDermott @MrTomMcDermott

Couple of extra years on the table for out of contract Juan Mata. Tells you where club is. I think if you asked ten people to name a #MUFC XI of existing players, the Spaniard would struggle to get in for 8 or 9 of them. Not quick or mobile enough from wide but writes a good blog https://t.co/VBtIa04DeS

There is also a gap in the Reds' midfield ranks after former Athletic Bilbao playmaker Ander Herrera was released. His ability to take on difficult man-marking assignments in big games will be missed.

Chris Winterburn @cmwinterburn

Eden Hazard already hoping Ander Herrera doesn’t follow him to LaLiga as well.

Longstaff would give Solskjaer a player who would add the drive and tenacity too often missing from the United engine room in recent years. If Magpies manager Rafa Benitez can be convinced to cash in on his brightest young star, as well as Longstaff warming to the idea of moving on, United would pull off a genuine coup in this summer's transfer market.