On the eve of the new Premier League season, NUFC have announced Isaac Hayden has extended his contract until 2026, while Karl Darlow is now contracted to the club until 2025.
These deals follow the recent arrivals of Bournemouth duo Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser, alongside Jamal Lewis from Norwich City. When you add this trio to the free transfers of Jeff Hendrick and Mark Gillespie earlier in the window you are left with this unusual positive feeling of being a Newcastle United fan in a transfer window.
It has been frequently reported that Issac Hayden has been unsettled at the club for some time, looking to relocate further South to be with his family. This caused the contract announcement to come as a huge surprise.
This surprise though, unlike those relating to Newcastle United in the last 13 years was one which came without a shadow of negativity.
Ask any fan in black and white and they will revel in Hayden’s importance to the squad. As many of you highlighted in our Player Insights article back in June, the defensive midfielders stock on Tyneside has grown exponentially since his arrival in 2016.
It feels like we are witnessing a long-awaited, yet sensible approach to building our squad, and that certainly causes for optimism going into the 2020/21 season.
On the other hand I do find Darlow’s extension an odd decision. Joining the club in the summer of 2015 alongside Jamal Lascelles, he has been a unpredictable goalkeeper to say the least.
Throughout his time on Tyneside he has flirted with the starting position, but only managed to hold down the starting spot between the sticks during our Championship promotion season.
During our 2016-17 season, Rafa was forced to place trust in the Northampton-born goalkeeper due to the struggling from of newcomer Mat Sels, and the unfavourable view he held on long time servant Tim Krul.
With Dubravka similarly contracted to 2025, it seems bemusing that Darlow was offered this extension, unless of course a big money offer comes in for the Slovakian.
Following the departure of Rob Elliot, the club decided to pick up the former Newcastle United Academy graduate, Mark Gillespie, on a free transfer.
Of course, it is not rare for Premier League clubs to want 3 high quality goalkeepers, but with Freddie Woodman set for a return to the North East at the end of the season, I assumed he would be better positioned to challenge Dubravka for the number 1 spot in the future.
I just hope that for the clubs sake, Darlow does not prevent the development of Freddie Woodman, as I strongly believe he is the heir to Dubravka.
As for the right here and now, with Martin Dubravka ruled out for the beginning of the season, I hope that Darlow can step up his performances.
In hindsight this contract extension could be a blessing in disguise if he can gain that extra piece of confidence when filling in between the sticks. If last season is anything to go by, Darlow can certainly expect some busy performances in the upcoming weeks!
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