Derby County have been linked with a move for out of favour Newcastle United midfielder Matty Longstaff, according to the Chronicle.
Despite making a Premier League breakthrough with the Magpies, Longstaff, the younger brother of fellow midfielder Sean, found game-time extremely limited in the 2020-21 campaign, playing just five times in the Premier League.
21-year-old Longstaff attracted interest from Championship clubs last season but Derby’s has resurfaced – midfield though seems to be an area the club have several talented players in.
Should Longstaff be captured by Wayne Rooney this summer, let’s look at three different systems he could be used in during the 2021-22 season.
In the number 10 role in a 4-2-3-1
Despite experimenting throughout the season, Rooney’s preferred system was a 4-2-3-1 and Longstaff could flourish in that attacking midfield role.
With Krystian Bielik sidelined, the onus would be on Graeme Shinnie and Max Bird to provide the defensive side of the midfield and the playmaking from deep, with Longstaff given freedom to burst forward.
Longstaff showed he has an eye for goal when rifling home against Manchester United on his Premier League debut and even though it may be harsh on Louie Sibley, he didn’t have a great 2020/21 season and Longstaff could move ahead of him in that position.
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5-4-1 in a midfield duo with Shinnie/Bird
Another system that Rooney used occasionally was a 3-4-3, and in this Longstaff would probably be one half of a midfield two alongside Shinnie or Bird.
Even though young starlet Jason Knight is probably best in an attacking midfield role, the Ireland international has proven himself to be effective out wide as well and like in the 4-2-3-1, he’d assume the position of the left-winger.
It’s far more likely with the midfield talent at Rooney’s disposal though he will go for a midfield three, but it’s a formation that he’s implemented and it has to be considered again.
Bielik, Longstaff, Knight and Sibley in a diamond midfield
Back in January, Polish midfielder Krystian Bielik suffered disaster when he picked up a second knee injury in the space of a year, which will keep him out for most of 2021.
The 23-year-old cost £9.5 million from Arsenal and is clearly really talented, and the club are hoping that he will come back the same player once he is fully recovered.
If he does, Bielik will slot back into the side but he will give Rooney even more of a selection headache – so he may have to turn to a diamond midfield to fit them all in.
Bielik would be the sitter, Knight and Longstaff would be the box-to-box players whilst Louie Sibley would play in the number 10 role – all supported by full-backs bombing on providing the width.