In this episode of Player Insights we take a detailed look at our immensely reliable holding midfielder, Isaac Hayden. The England Under 21 international was bought to Tyneside in 2016, and although initially slipped under the radar, has emerged into an integral part of our first-team setup.
Born in Chelmsford, Essex, Isaac Hayden took his first steps into football with Southend United. Spending 4 years within the youth setup, Hayden developed his all round game playing a midfield role for the club.
In 2008 when Isaac turned 13, he was scouted by two Premier League clubs; Manchester United and Arsenal, before he eventually signed for the North London club.
His time within the Arsenal youth academy certainly nurtured the Englishman’s playing style. The years of 2008-2013 were those which Hayden spent in the wings of Arsenal, waiting for his first team opportunity. Those were also the years in which Arsene Wenger had the club playing beautiful possession based football, with a focus on fast passes and retention of the ball.
It was a period in which we saw Cesc Fabregas shine, and although Isaac Hayden is a completely different footballer, the same core values seem to have been instilled; keeping possession.
In September 2013, Isaac Hayden made his full Arsenal debut. He played 84 minutes in a midfield role against West Brom, with Arsenal eventually claimimg victory at the Hawthorns after a penalty shootout.
A year later Isaac Hayden made his second, and final appearance for the Gunners. Again appearing in the League Cup, as he was instead utilised at centre back. It was not a great performance, as a team, or individually as Arsenal fell to a 2-1 defeat to Southampton. The Englishman was subsequently loaned to Championship club, Hull City.
In desperate search of first team football, it appeared Hull City was the correct destination for the youngster. Steve Bruce was managing the Tigers throughout the 2015/16 campaign and saw Hayden as a trustworthy option in the middle of the park.
The first game of the season saw Hayden play the full 90 minutes in a convincing 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town. This fixture appeared to signal the beginning of an upward trend for both club, and player.
The midfielder continued to appear 18 times in the league for Hull City, notching his first senior goal as the club finished the League season in a Play-Off position. As the club navigated their way to the Final, Hayden was unfortunate to not appear in the fixture.
Thankfully, Mohammed Diame netted a wonder-strike to earn the club a 1-0 win, and more importantly promotion to the Premier League. It can be perceived, that the promotion of Hull City alerted some of the scouting team sitting further North, in the Newcastle United training camp, to the available services of Hayden.
Life at Newcastle
With Rafa Benitez at the helm of Newcastle United, he outlined clear characteristics required in new recruits; desire and commitment. The Spaniard was focused on building a team, rather than a group of individuals.
After sales of Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat, and Remy Cabella, Benitez shifted his focus onto players with a point to prove. Isaac Hayden appeared to tick all those boxes, while also offering the added advantage of experiencing promotion from the Championship.
The midfielder did not earn a place among headlines throughout his first season, but quietly went about his work during our Championship campaign. Racking up 33 league appearances, Hayden was clearly benefiting from the increased playing time he was afforded.
The midfielder was certainly a key figure in our instant return to the Premier League, as we lifted the trophy on the final match day of the 2016/17 season.
Clearly earning the trust of Rafa Benitez, Hayden was deployed as a defensive midfielder throughout the following campaign in the Premier League.
Again, the same story unfolded, as he quietly delivered impressive performances whenever on the pitch.
A lot has changed the space of the last 3 years; a new manager at the helm, a host of different players, and the heightened importance surrounding our number 14.
Throughout the current campaign, Hayden has become the engine of our team. Putting in the hard work in midfield, his tenacious and determined style perfectly synchronises with our set up. Defending deep with a lack of possession, we have relied on counter attacks to hurt our opponent.
Hayden is therefore crucial at not only winning the ball back, but also maintaining possession when we do recover the ball. He is the type of player that allows the players around him to flourish. In can be no coincidence that Jonjo Shelvey’s best season in black and white has occurred in the same campaign as Hayden’s.
I personally feel that Hayden has become one of the first names on the team sheet, with the omission of the midfielder and our captain, Lascelles, truly underlined in our recent thrashing at the hands of Manchester City.
Unfortunately, The midfielder has been open when discussing a potential exit from Newcastle United during previous transfer windows. However, in contrast to past transfer sagas involving midfielders in black and white, Hayden has reasons of more importance than football.
With a family based in London, Isaac is new to the world of parenthood. Facing challenges in terms of his child’s health following a premature birth, he has long been shouldering the responsibility of playing for Newcastle United, while needing to be there for his child and his fiancee, based in London.
These are the factors that are not taken consideration when a footballer has an off-day on the pitch, however this is a factor which makes his commitment so much more admirable.
Voice of the Fans
New to this type of article, we wanted to include the opinions from people who watch Hayden week in, week out – Newcastle United fans.
The professionalism and commitment of Hayden did not go unnoticed, appearing as a repeated theme throughout your comments:
Issac Hayden clearly has a lot of admirers, and there is no doubt he deserves it!
What the future may hold
With the midfielder being only 25 years old, he still has plenty of years left in his career. Regardless of the outcome for our long overdue takeover, I would love to see Hayden stay on Tyneside long-term.
It still causes disbelief that he has not been linked with an England call-up, with the factor of Gareth Southgate prioritising players from the classic ‘Top six teams’ seemingly a large influence on this.
A prime example would be Eric Dier from Tottenham. Dier has become a regular part of the England squad in recent times, however Isaac Hayden surely offers more on the pitch. If the players swapped clubs, no doubt their international status would also follow suit…
I do hope that if Hayden continues his current from, he gets the call-up he so thoroughly deserves.
Finally, If he does finally decide that he needs to complete a transfer to return closer to his family, not a single soul in the North East could begrudge him a move. As a true professional with limitless commitment shown to the club, I would not be alone in stating he will be held in very high regards amongst our fans whichever path his future takes.
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