Tino Livramento is one of Newcastle’s best signings – and he wants to play for England over Scotland

Tino Livramento of Newcastle United is seen at full time during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on December 02, 2023
Tino Livramento's star is on the rise - Getty Images

Tino Livramento may qualify to play for Scotland but the Newcastle United defender intends to prove he is good enough to represent England. It should be a formality.

The 21-year-old has remained coy on his international future, not wanting to upset Scotland or Portugal, who he is also eligible to play for, but his intentions are clear.

Telegraph Sport understands he is very much in the conversation to be included in Gareth Southgate’s next England squad, his newfound ability to play at left back – where he has been superb for his club in the last few games – making him a potential bolter for next summer’s European Championship.

Although Scotland would like him to declare for them and can offer him an immediate call up if he does, the stark reality is the England Under-21 player, at this stage of his career, believes he is too good to abandon the country of his birth, just to be certain he goes to Euro 2024 next year.

The 21-year-old is a particularly astute acquisition for Eddie Howe, who to many people’s surprise, pushed hard to sign the full-back from Southampton in the summer even though there was an argument the £32 million should have been spent on other areas of the squad.

Indeed, Newcastle’s recruitment strategy was openly questioned. Not because Livramento was a bad player, but he was not in the starting XI and clearly behind first-choice right-back – and arguably the club’s most important player – Kieran Trippier.

Howe limited Livramento to just two starts in the Carabao Cup until the middle of November, where he excelled against both Manchester City and Manchester United. So, why spend so much of a limited transfer budget, constrained tightly by profit and sustainability rules, on a second string full-back?

Howe has always remained polite when dealing with criticism of his decisions on Tyneside, but his body language betrayed his irritation at questions about whether the club had made a mistake signing two full-backs in Livramento and Lewis Hall who would not get into his strongest team.

Newcastle United's English defender #21 Valentino Livramento controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League 1st round football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Newcastle United on November 28, 2023
Livramento has made an impact at Newcastle in recent weeks - Getty Images/Franck Fife

Newcastle, though, were thinking of the medium and long-term. Livramento had been one of the outstanding young players in the Premier League before a serious knee injury at Southampton. They recognised it was better to buy him from a relegated club in the summer than wait for others to enter the bidding. The injury helped them to get a long-term target because others wanted to see him return to full fitness before making a move.

Newcastle’s recruitment team had been watching him closely since his early days at Chelsea and he was high on their wanted list before the knee injury. While others dallied, Newcastle swooped.

Even as the long-term successor to Trippier, the deal made some sense, but it has been Livramento’s performances in a new position on the left that had turned a smart piece of business into inspired. Howe did not know for sure if he could thrive on the left, but his newfound versatility has elevated his game to a new level.

Watching Livramento against Chelsea, Paris St-Germain and Manchester United, he has dominated high-class wingers in Cole Palmer, Ousmane Dembélé and Randal Kolo Muani, and Marcus Rashford. Defensively he is as good as any young full-back in Europe, but it is his ability to hurt teams offensively that is the difference maker.

It was Livramento’s run, where he beat four PSG defenders, cutting in from the left wing, that led to Newcastle’s goal in Paris.

Against Manchester United last weekend, Rashford was crushed by his inability to beat his marker, with either speed or skill, and was constantly exposed by the full-back sprinting beyond him to create overloads for Newcastle down the left.

With Trippier causing his usual mayhem with Miguel Almirón down the right, Newcastle now have the same threat on the opposite wing, with Livramento and Anthony Gordon. It has balanced out the team in a way first choice left-back, Dan Burn, who is out with a back injury, could not.

Burn was once considered one of Howe’s undroppables, but it is doubtful he will get into Newcastle’s strongest side when he returns to fitness. That is how good Livramento has been.

It will raise some awkward questions for Chelsea. Southampton had to sell him after relegation to help absorb the financial hit of dropping into the Championship, but Chelsea did not and should not have sold him to the south coast club for just £5 million in 2021. There have been a lot of mistakes made by Chelsea in recent years but this is starting to look like one of their biggest.

Livramento grew up a Chelsea fan and joined the club’s academy in 2009. He was talked about as one of their best prospects – in a highly competitive field – for years. But they let his contract get into its final year and with the player itching to get first-team opportunities, effectively forced his departure by refusing to sign an extension.

He had seen too many promising Chelsea youngsters stagnate, waiting until their early 20s, before deciding to leave. The pathway to regular first-team football was littered with expensive obstacles. Not least the fact club captain César Azpilicueta was ensconced at right-back and England international Reece James – just three years older and another academy graduate also established in the first-team squad.

Chelsea had two excellent young right-backs coming through at roughly the same time and Livramento was not going to be told to be patient. He was also, unlike others pacified by Chelsea, not interested in just going out on loan in order to play. He was in a hurry to get on with his career and suspected he would have to wait too long at Chelsea to blossom.

Then manager Thomas Tuchel was successful at Stamford Bridge and won the Champions League in 2021 but he was not showing enough interest in Livramento. He was named on the bench twice by the German but did not play a single minute before the end of the 2020-21 campaign and that cemented his misgivings.

The move to Southampton was exactly what he needed and even a long-term injury has failed to derail his rapid progress and development.

Newcastle recognised what Chelsea had failed to spot. They look like they are in possession of a player who will go on to become England’s best full-back, on either side, for years to come. Suddenly an expensive backup player looks like one of the bargains of the season.