Manchester United left stunned by Newcastle's £50m asking price for Sean Longstaff

Sean Longstaff in pre-season training with Newcastle - Newcastle United
Sean Longstaff in pre-season training with Newcastle - Newcastle United

Manchester United have been left stunned after being quoted £50 million for Sean Longstaff by Newcastle United.

Longstaff has surprisingly emerged as a leading midfield target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but, despite having only made nine Premier League appearances for Newcastle, the Tyneside club have slapped a huge price tag on the 21 year-old’s head.

Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, is understood to have contacted Lee Charnley, the Newcastle managing director, on Saturday to enquire about Longstaff only to be told he will cost £50m.

That figure is way over double what the Manchester club are prepared to pay for Longstaff, who value the youngster at between £18m and £20m.

Longstaff only made his Premier League debut last December but Newcastle are thought to be using the projected £50m fee that the Old Trafford outfit paid Crystal Palace for England Under-21 right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka as a benchmark.

United are believed to have been taken aback by Newcastle’s position. Longstaff is known to want to come to Old Trafford but Newcastle’s stance may force United to pursue alternative targets.

Sean Longstaff celebrates scoring for Newcastle - Credit: reuters
Sean Longstaff (left) only made his Premier League debut last December Credit: reuters

Although United recognise they are operating in an inflated market and there is a premium on young British players, there is some concern that there is almost an additional tax on players they are interested in signing.

Solskjaer stressed on Wednesday that United will not be held to ransom and want “the right players at the right prices”, but they are likely to have to make Harry Maguire the world’s most expensive defender if they are to prise him away from Leicester City, which has become the subject of their focus of late.

Leicester are demanding £90m for the England centre-back but United are hoping to strike a deal around the £75m figure that Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil van Dijk last year. Manchester City are also interested in Maguire but believe the market rate for the defender is around £60m and are refusing to be drawn into a bidding war, which clears the way for United.

United are thought to be prioritising the Maguire deal and the situation involving Romelu Lukaku at the moment. Piero Ausilio, Inter Milan’s sporting director, is understood to have flown to London for talks with United officials on Thursday as the Italian giants bid to thrash out a deal for the wantaway Belgium striker.

Lukaku, and fellow forward Anthony Martial, missed United’s open training session in front of 12,000 fans at the Waca stadium in Perth on Thursday in order to do some alternative work in the gym. Both had been involved in the morning training session.

Inter are proposing an initial two-year loan worth about £9m with an obligation to buy at the end of that term for a further £53.7m but United want a straight cash deal. Inter’s hopes of being able to meet United’s £75m valuation are still likely to hinge on them offloading Argentina striker Mauro Icardi, who is attracting interest from Juventus.

Romelu Lukaku (left) training with Manchester United in Australia - Credit: getty images
Romelu Lukaku (left) training with Manchester United in Australia Credit: getty images

Lukaku has not publicly voiced his desire to leave Old Trafford, unlike team mate Paul Pogba, and has remained respectful, even reporting two days early for pre-season. But he has not felt wanted by Solskjaer over the past six months and wants to play for Antonio Conte at Inter. Solskjaer held talks with Lukaku this week and has launched something of a charm offensive at a time when United are struggling to bolster their attacking options but the Belgian has regarded it as too little, too late and has set his sights on a transfer.

Lukaku felt he was cast aside when Solskjaer took over and installed Marcus Rashford as his first-choice centre-forward and favoured an attack featuring Martial and Jesse Lingard. He also believes little attempt was made to dampen talk about him leaving.

Solskjaer has told his United squad he will not accept a repeat of last season’s troubles, when they finished the campaign in sixth place after taking eight points from their final nine league games. The manager sat his squad down on the first day of pre-season last week and spelled out his demands.

“We had a meeting on the first day in which the manager and the staff spoke about what they expect from us, what they expect from Manchester United players,” midfielder Juan Mata revealed.

“I think that’s the right thing to do. I think we all have to know what we represent, we have to know the level that people expect from us and I think it’s good to do it the first day. Since then, they’re trying to help the players, trying to improve in the way they want us to play and it’s all fine so far.”

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