With training camp around the corner, Newcastle United will enjoy plenty of depth and competition in midfield this summer.
Newcastle United will host its first training session this Thursday. Some players are eager to get back to work for the new season while others have different career objectives now that Rafa Benitez has left the club and will now manage a team in China.
There will be plenty of internal competition at every position for the new manager to assess and determine what role each player will have going forward, especially returning loanees. That being said, though, the position with the most internal competition for playing time this summer will be in central midfield.
Early Favorites As Starters
The early favorites to start the season in the middle of the park would have to be Sean Longstaff and Jonjo Shelvey. Longstaff missed the final weeks of the season with a knee injury, but he was untouchable prior to picking up his knock. The 21-year-old maintained composure with the ball at his feet, did a decent job defending against opposing counter-attacks and he was active up top when the Magpies would attack.
Shelvey had a season to forget as a result of a lingering thigh injury, but with Mohamed Diame now in Qatar and Isaac Hayden surely on his way out, Shelvey’s vision and ability to spread the ball around will place him at an advantage. He has a reputation for being one of the best passers in England and the new manager will have high hopes and expectations for Shelvey because of this.
Next In Line
Ki Sung-yueng will undoubtedly be the top rotational option for the new manager and he could even end up starting alongside Longstaff. Ki only made 18 appearances for the Toon last season due to injury and he spendt one month with his national team in the Asian Cup, but he proved to be a reliable option in the middle of the park.
His primary competition for playing time will be Henri Saivet and Jack Colback, two players who have been with Newcastle United for a few years, but fell out of favor when Benitez was in charge. Of the two players, Colback has better odds of breaking into the rotation because of his experience in the Top Flight – 179 appearances, 64 with Newcastle United – and he is more talented. Out of all the players on the roster, Colback was probably the happiest to see Benitez go as his departure grants the 29-year-old the chance to revive his career with the Toon.