It’s been quite a meteoric rise for Matty Longstaff, from being spotted by the Newcastle United Academy playing for North Shields Athletic Juniors, to being selected into the first team squad when he was just 19-years-old.
On October 6, 2019, Longstaff became the youngest ever Newcastle player to score on his Premier League debut as his memorable right-footed strike from outside the area helped The Magpies beat Manchester United and also earned him the 'Goal of the Month' award in Steve Bruce’s 400th top-flight match as a manager.
In the reverse fixture in December, Longstaff proved it wasn't a fluke and scored the opening goal at Old Trafford but the outcome was not the same as The Red Devils came from behind to win 4-1 on Boxing Day.
Frustratingly, since his breakthrough season, injuries have thwarted the 21-year-old’s progress and he wasn’t able to replicate the same spark last season, making just five appearances for Newcastle, with his last competitive outing back in January when he played 78 minutes in a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
A unique new experience and exciting challenge now awaits Longstaff as he departs the North East of England for the North East of Scotland on a season-long loan at Pittodrie, where he will be closely mentored by former Newcastle winger and Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass. As part of the deal, Longstaff has signed a one-year extension to his Newcastle contract.
Longstaff will adapt to life in Scotland
Longstaff is a lively and dynamic central midfielder and appears to be well suited for the Scottish Premiership as he’s full of energy and spirit and will relish the completely different competitive attributes each side has to offer in contrast to the Premier League.
Aberdeen are a side who like to control the ball and based on their first three matches of the season, according to whoscored.com, they have averaged 58.1% possession and they have reaped the rewards with their system and style of play, remaining unbeaten in the league with two wins and a draw.
While in comparison, Newcastle like to invite pressure and try and hit teams on the counter-attack, they have averaged 45.1% possession and have just one point from three league games played.
The tactical set-up from The Dons could work in Longstaff’s favour as the youngster will be eager to take control by having more freedom with the ball at his feet and look to dictate the flow of the game in the centre of the pitch.
Speaking to RedTV after he completed his loan move to Aberdeen, Longstaff is relishing the challenges that lie ahead. He said: “What you want as a player is to be playing under pressure and to deal with it. At Newcastle there’s an expectancy to play at a high level. I’m expecting the exact same thing at Aberdeen.
“That was the big attractive thing coming here – they expect to win every game and it’s a great mentality to have in the building from a young age. Hopefully I can do that here. I’m always here to help the team with my legs in midfield. Hopefully I can get on the ball and help the team.”
There is no doubt that Longstaff’s career will benefit significantly by the guidance of The Reds’ management team. Glass is a Scottish League Cup winner with Aberdeen in 1995, assistant manager Allan Russell was influential as an attacking coach for England in the 2018 World Cup and first team coach Scott Brown made over 600 appearances for Celtic. It’s safe to say that the youngster is in very good hands.
Longstaff can take inspiration from Premier League stars Robertson, Tierney and McGinn
After making the move across the border to Pittodrie, Matty is following in the footsteps of brother Sean Longstaff and Paul Dummett, who enjoyed successful loan spells at Kilmarnock and St Mirren respectively.
There have also been other Premier League stars who Longstaff can be inspired by having made a name for themselves in Scottish football, including Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson, Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney and Aston Villa’s John McGinn.
The Tartan Army trio all started their careers in Scotland. Robertson had spells at Queen's Park and Dundee United, while Tierney came through the Celtic youth system and McGinn played for St Mirren and Hibernian. They are now all regular first team players with their respective top-flight clubs.
A golden opportunity awaits Longstaff at Aberdeen and if it proves to be fruitful and he impresses The Magpies boss, wearing the black and white stripes regularly could be a familiar sight to see for the local North Shields star in the not too distant future.