With it being confirmed recently that he’ll still be pursuing a move away this summer for family reasons, I felt it’s time we took a moment to appreciate what a brilliant job Isaac Hayden has done this season.
TWO requests to leave for personal reasons fell flat (both last summer and in January), he was fast becoming our 5th choice midfielder and 99 times out of 100, a player in his situation in this day and age would’ve sulked – yet here he is, ending the season arguably our first-choice midfielder, battling for every ball and giving his all to help keep us up.
It was well documented last summer that he wanted out to move closer to his family down south, with his partner struggling and him missing the chance to see his young daughter grow up. An escape route was denied after Rafa unable to land a replacement and, two games into the season, his time at the club hit an all time low, with a reckless challenge and resultant red card at Cardiff contributing to a frustrating start to the season.
He looked dejected, frustrated, and considering he’d go on to start just ONE game between then and Boxing Day, it would’ve been easy to see him throwing the towel in and sitting out the season until he finally earned a move closer to home. But that didn’t happen.
Since the turn of the year he’s started all fourteen of our league games, not only forming an impressive partnership with Sean Longstaff, putting in countless full blooded challenges, covering every blade of grass and shielding our defence brilliantly, but also chipping in three assists and one goals – contributions that helped us earn a point at Wolves and big wins over Cardiff, Man City and Huddersfield.
The fact his rise to form and first-team action came in January is all the more impressive too, being a month he would’ve pencilled in to secure a potential transfer to be reunited with loved ones. Again that didn’t work out for him, with Ki away at the Asian Cup and Shelvey and Diame picking up untimely injuries, but it didn’t stop him knuckling down and showing 100% commitment to the cause.
His 2019 numbers also show what an integral part of our side he has become. Here’s a few key stats:
- Made more tackles (57) and won more (34) than any other Newcastle player this season – two stats that put him in the top four for tackles across the entire Premier League.
- Hayden has covered 177.18 KM – more than any other Newcastle player and a stat that ranks him as the 7th hardest worker in the Premier League.
- He’s made 83 ball recoveries – more than any other outfield player at the club this season.
- He’s made the THIRD most passes at the club this season (behind only Ritchie and Lejeune).
- Has a pass completion rate of over 79% also making him our second most accurate distributor across 2018/19.
Also, just look at the way he’s been celebrating on the pitch! (see above picture) This is what it means – even to those who ‘want out’. It’s also worth noting that if anyone joins Jamaal Lascelles in a post-match lap of the pitch to show their appreciation to fans, it’s him.
I didn’t think I’d say this a year ago, but I’ll be gutted to see him go if he does indeed secure a move further down south this summer, but I’m sure all NUFC fans would join me in saying what a credit to the club, himself and his family he’s been over the past few months.
He’s shown a real touch of class over the past year; both on and off the pitch.