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Lee Clark exclusive: 'Absolutely crucial' Newcastle retain Matty Longstaff

Newcastle United legend Lee Clark says it is "absolutely crucial" the club sign Matty Longstaff to a new contract.

Tyneside native Longstaff burst onto the scene in October when he scored the winning goal against Manchester United at St. James' Park.

With negotiations stalling over a new contract, the 19-year-old academy product is on track to become a free agent this summer.

But speaking after Sunday's loss to Arsenal, Toon boss Steve Bruce was calm when asked about Longstaff, Federico Fernandez and Javi Manquillo.

"There's no uncertainty in the air," he told a press conference.

"I think it's normal. We've just come out of the January window, and we've now got three or four months to start talking, which already has happened.

"There's no real sense of urgency at all. Of course, the big one is young Matty, but we'll keep trying and plugging away."

The comments came as a sharp u-turn from Bruce, who just days before admitted talks between Longstaff's representatives and the club had stalled.

Longstaff will be able to leave the club in the summer for just £400,000, and The Chronicle has claimed an unnamed 'reputable' European club wants his signature.

Letting Longstaff leave would be a terrible decision according to Clark, who thinks it is "massive" for his former club to keep both Matty and brother Sean in the North East.

"It's absolutely crucial the club tie down Matty Longstaff to a new contract," Clark wrote in his column for TribalFootball.com.

"The club have been crying out for local lads who have come through from the academy, and there is now a manager in place who is prepared to play the youngsters, even above the senior players, and not wait for his hand to be forced through injuries or suspensions.

"The academy is appreciative of that and the young players can see that there will be opportunities given. And the two boys, Sean as well, have come in and are two completely different types of players, but have done terrifically well in their own right.

"And I think it is massive for the club to keep them on board, get them settled and make them part of the future, because good young players are hard to come by, and especially local players."

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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