With Cheick Tiote likely to exit Newcastle United for United Arab Emirates’ side Al Jazira, it’s a man from another Emirates – the one in north London – who now has to fill the 30-year-old’s boots at St James’ Park. His name is Isaac Hayden.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Hull City, helping the Tigers win promotion to the Premier League – and he could be set to make it two triumphs in a row this season, having signed on the dotted line for Rafael Benitez.
Here are three reasons he’s a great buy…
Hayden is a genuinely versatile player
A composed and classy performer, the youngster established himself as a consummate defensive midfielder for Hull City last season.
But his solid displays at centre-back and creativity when used on the right of midfield for Arsenal’s under-21 side have shown the Chelmsford native to be dependable and reliable wherever he’s played.
With Tiote having excelled in a holding midfield role and a more creative central berth, it’s important that the new man can slot in just as smoothly – even if the Ivorian international ends up staying on Tyneside.
He continues to look a creative threat
Having proved a regular source of assists for Arsenal at youth level, and finding the net for both the Gunners under-21s and Hull City, there’s plenty of reason to believe the youngster can also have an impact going forward for Newcastle.
His excellent goal against Doncaster Rovers in a recent friendly for the Magpies certainly suggests so, as does his fantastic passing display against Bohemians in one of their other pre-season victories. And the sizeable defender also boasts a real aerial threat, as well as a powerful shot from range.
That’s certainly one area where Hayden will have the advantage over Tiote, who hasn’t netted a goal for the Geordies since February 2011.
He has the attitude to succeed
There’s no doubting the new man on Tyneside is a hardworking player, and at 21, he has a surprising maturity for reading the game. And his recent comments on working with Newcastle gaffer Rafael Benitez suggest he’s keen to learn and develop.
Hayden told the media this morning, “I’ve already learned a hell of a lot in the two weeks I’ve been here”, and described working under the Spaniard as a “brilliant” experience. He also emphasised that “whatever role the manager sees me in is the role I will do”.
That sense of commitment should be music to the ears of the St James’ Park faithful.
Newcastle kick off the season with a trip to Fulham, with the visitors 20/21 to win. And an imposing opening-day victory could well see the 7/4 for the Magpies to lift the Championship title looking like a very wise bet.
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