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'Longstaff is not for sale' - Newcastle owner deals transfer blow to Man Utd

00:10 BST 27/07/2019
Sean Longstaff Newcastle 2018-19
Magpies supremo Mike Ashley insists his midfield starlet is going nowhere this summer, despite interest from the Red Devils

Manchester United have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Newcastle United starlet Sean Longstaff after Magpies owner Mike Ashley said the young midfielder is “not for sale”.

Ashley was echoing the words of his new manager Steve Bruce, who also claims the 21-year-old will not be leaving Tyneside, and revealed he didn’t want to sell Ayoze Perez, who joined Leicester City earlier this month in a £30 million ($37m) deal.

So far this summer Newcastle have broken their transfer record to bring in Brazilian striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim for a reported fee of £40m ($50m), and Ashley is hoping further new faces will follow him through the door at St. James’ Park.

But in an interview with The Daily Mail, Ashley says one player who won’t be passing the new man on his way out is Longstaff.

“The message we want to put out is that he is not for sale,” he says. “If you’ve got one like Sean – keep him.

And when questioned about Perez’s untimely departure earlier this summer after he ended the 2018-19 campaign as the club’s top scorer, Ashley adds: “We didn't want to sell Perez, but had no option once Leicester reached that figure [his release clause].

“These clauses are the highest you think the player will accept, so he can't batter your door down and demand to be sold for £10m. 

“I don't care what people say, it's very difficult to keep a player when they want to go. The age of slavery is dead. But we've learned our lesson on release clauses from here.”

Having broken a club record to land Joelinton – just six months after doing the exact same thing to sign Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United in January – Ashley admits a recent visit to the club’s training ground provided a rare glimmer of positivity in what has been a difficult summer.

With Rafa Benitez’s controversial departure dominating the headlines, followed by Bruce’s arrival, and the ongoing takeover saga that seems to be revived on an annual basis, it was a welcome boost.

“I go to the training ground, hot day, all lovely - you can't help getting carried away,” he says. 

“I'm like, ‘What can I do to help? Can we get another one in? What's he like, is he fast?’

“It's one of the amazing things about owning a football club, the way you get caught up. It's like someone has put something in your coffee. 

“You look around, you want to lift the place, hit the ground running. I hope we're not finished at Joelinton."

And on the latest takeover chapter, which this summer saw the Bin Zayed Group claim they had reached an agreement for the sale of the Premier League club, he says: “I have to assume I will stay running this football club.

“There are no offers. Define an offer. I'm not a believer any more. 

“I think I could own this football club for ever. That is my new mental state. The reality is with these deals that once it gets out, if it's not done, it's probably not going to get done.”