Will Newcastle grant Isaac Hayden his desired January exit?
Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden returned to the matchday squad in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town. Rafael Benitez handed the Chelmsford native his first Premier League appearance from the bench for three weeks. It was only Hayden’s fifth outing of the campaign. As the season nears its mid-point, his future at St James Park looks uncertain.
The 23-year-old was denied a move away from Newcastle over the summer and has hardly featured under Benitez since. His last start for the Magpies came in mid-September against former side Arsenal. Off-field distractions are likely to blame for Hayden losing focus and no longer being a key player in the side. Is it best for all parties that Newcastle let him leave in the New Year?
In mid-July, Hayden handed in a transfer request to Newcastle, explaining that the decision was purely for family reasons. His daughter and her mother had moved to Wales, roughly 300 miles from Newcastle. He wasn’t granted a departure although the club reportedly offered Hayden a flexible training schedule to allow him to see his family.
Regardless, the midfielder is unsettled. It affects his performance. Hayden was sent off just 21 minutes after coming off the bench against Cardiff City on August 18. Untrusted, he'd make one other appearance for the next two months. Rafa Benitez has left Hayden on the bench three times and out of the matchday squad seven. Why is the Toon hierarchy bent on keeping him?
Hayden was an important player for Newcastle in the past but that's no longer the case. Upon his arrival from Arsenal in 2016, he played in 33 of their 46 Championship outings, helping the Magpies to promotion in 2016/17. he racked up another 26 league appearances last season. The former England U21 has amassed, if you can call it that, 35 minutes of Premier League football since September. Benitez can’t argue he still needs Hayden at St James’ Park.
The Spaniard relies on Ki Sung-yueng, Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame in midfield this season. Ki will be absent early in the New Year for the Asian Cup. newcastle may want to leave any Hayden transfer until the deadline to cope, but they have the option to recall a capable loanee.
The fiery ginger left Newcastle to join Nottingham Forest on loan in July. He's been a key player in the heart of Aitor Karanka’s side. If Newcastle granted Hayden a move away in January, they could recall Colback, one hard-working ball-winner for another.
Colback said he would consider a return should Benitez want him back. As yet, there’s no suggestion United are considering the move. Hayden also has to consider which club he’d join to be near his family. Moves to Cardiff, Swansea or the South West of England would be ideal. That likely means a return to the Championship and a wage cut. Viewed from every angle, it's a difficult situation.