Ex-West Bromwich Albion midfielder Carlton Palmer has admitted he’s surprised Newcastle United midfielder Matty Longstaff has opted to join Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen over a Championship side including the Baggies in the summer, in an interview with The Transfer Tavern.
Longstaff, 21, was deemed surplus to requirements in the short-term at St James’ Park after only making five Premier League appearances during the 2020/21 campaign, a disappointing lack of minutes for the midfielder who made his Tyneside breakthrough during the previous season.
Norwich City, Belgian side Anderlecht and pundit Palmer’s former side West Brom were all linked with a move for the 21-year-old way back in June, although it proved to be the Baggies’ Championship rivals Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town who were most recently chasing him.
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A report from the Northern Echo in the middle of last month revealed Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest were both leading the race for his loan signature and had made temporary offers to take him away from St James’ Park.
Despite the latter recruiting Manchester United’s James Garner, all but ending their pursuit of the Newcastle man, the former were still in the market for central midfielders up until the final couple of days of the summer window.
However, Longstaff opted to move to Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen, who qualified for the Europa League qualifying stage before being knocked out by Azerbaijani side Qarabag at the final hurdle.
Former Baggie Palmer has revealed how surprised he is by Longstaff’s career choice to move north of the border and said to The Transfer Tavern: “I was shocked when I saw that.
“I was dumbfounded when I saw that. No disrespect to Scotland, but if you’ve got the chance to play for West Brom (or elsewhere in the Championship), surely you’d go play there – very strange one for me.”
A move to the Championship may have been more beneficial for his career – but Longstaff needs game time more than anything else and he’s probably had reassurances he would start regularly at Pittodrie.
At West Bromwich Albion with the likes of Alex Mowatt and Jake Livermore already at The Hawthorns before the 21-year-old decided to pick his loan move, there were no guarantees he would start and may have spent a large proportion of his time in the West Midlands sitting on the bench in Valerien Ismael’s current system.
Livermore is club captain and Mowatt was a key part of the Frenchman’s success at Barnsley last term, so he was probably wise to move to Aberdeen over West Brom, although he may have benefitted a lot from a move to another second-tier side.
Playing for the Scottish Premiership side may not seem like the most glamorous prospect to many, but games against the likes of Rangers, Celtic and Hibernian are likely to be lively encounters and Stephen Glass’ side are likely to be competing at the top end of the table.
Qualifying spots for Europe are up for grabs, and with Rangers and Celtic already losing in the league this season, Longstaff’s new side are likely to be following closely behind. The Newcastle man is likely to play a big role in this.