The Chronicle’s Chris Waugh believes Isaac Hayden’s future looks set to lie away from St James Park – claiming Rafa Benitez is now ‘struggling to trust him’ after his poor performances following his transfer request over the summer.
The midfielder had a great first season in the Championship but has struggled since our return to the Premier League.
We all know by now that Rafa likes players he can rely on, and often players with ill discipline have struggled to get game time – with Aleksandar Mitrovic being a prime example of this . It appears Hayden may have also fallen into that category.
Here’s what Waugh has had to say about the midfielder when asked about his future at the club during The Chronicle’s latest Q&A:
‘Hayden has gone backwards this year.
“Following a promising debut Premier League campaign, the 23-year-old has been affected by personal circumstance and handed in a transfer request during the summer.
“The want-away midfielder has only played 111 minutes of football this season, received a silly red card against Cardiff City, and seemingly Benitez is struggling to trust him.’
Given our lack of depth in central midfield, you’d think this will be a position that Rafa will want to strengthen in January. Only Hayden and Ki Sung Yueng are backup to the first choice pairing of Diame and Shelvey, and the fact Rafa has a couple of times picked an unsettled Hayden over Ki, suggests even more so that Ki has struggled to hit the ground running.
A long term injury to either first choice midfielder would leave us worryingly short.
We could speculate all day about potential central midfield targets, but at the moment it would be too early to suggest names.
All I know is that we MUST try and add some quality and competition in the middle of midfield or sadly this could be a long season. However remembering that Mike Ashley is our owner, this could be easier said than done.