Newcastle 2020/21 position battle: Central midfield

Sean Longstaff of Newcastle with Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Sean Longstaff of Newcastle with Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images) /

One of the deepest positions entering the season for Newcastle United will be in  central midfield.

Newcastle United’s Premier League campaign gets underway less than a week from now against West Ham United. The past few days have included some quality transfer business from the Magpies as their 2020/21 roster continues to take shape.

Over the next few days, we will look over some of the more intriguing positions for the club and see who may be the best option this season. First up, we take a look at the central midfield…

The Candidates

(not including Henri Saivet, who is unlikely to be on the EPL roster)

Isaac Hayden, Jeff Hendrick, Matty Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Jonjo Shelvey

The Expert Analysis

Durim Halimi: Like Carson’s assessment below, I believe the Longstaff brothers will play in a rotational capacity this season, but I disagree with his primary duo in the lineup.

Isaac Hayden is consistent and reliable, but this season is all about attacking football. For that reason, Steve Bruce should give the nod to Jonjo Shelvey and Jeff Hendrick.

Both players are eager to get involved in the action, which there will be plenty more of now that Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser are joining the team.

Shelvey is a superior passer, and he showed that he can contribute with six to eight goals from midfield. Hendrick has good vision, is aggressive, and he set an individual objective for himself to score more goals.

Carson A. Merk: I love the Jeff Hendrick signing and I’m hopeful that Sean Longstaff can bounce back while his brother continues to develop with his new deal in hand. For me, the starting duo should be the same two players that held the positions last season: Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden.

Shelvey is a lock for a starting spot, coming off his best season with the Magpies. Playing next to him, I think Hayden’s defensive willingness and ability allow Shelvey to move freely and focus more on distribution and getting forward.

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This season, there should be more frequent rotation in the midfield than in the past. Bruce can opt for Shelvey and Hendrick when he feels more attacking intent is needed and he can rotate the Longstaff brothers into the mix to rest tired legs or to slightly alter the tactics.