The intriguing reason why Newcastle United's January transfer priorities have changed

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Newcastle United's plans for the January transfer window have been adjusted.

The St. James' Park faithful held their collective breath as Newcastle United’s bright young thing was given a sight of goal and a chance to give further indication of his undoubted potential.

As the Chelsea defence parted and failed to close him down, Lewis Miley showed composure and class in abundance as he resisted the obvious temptation to shoot and played a perfectly weighted pass to allow Alexander Isak to open the scoring in what would become a 4-1 win for his side.

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Newcastle United starlet Lewis Miley has shone after being given a chance to prove himself by manager Eddie HoweNewcastle United starlet Lewis Miley has shone after being given a chance to prove himself by manager Eddie Howe
Newcastle United starlet Lewis Miley has shone after being given a chance to prove himself by manager Eddie Howe | Getty Images

In a moment of high pressure, the talented youngster had shown an ability to slow down his thought process, assess the options available and produce the sort of pass any striker would thrive upon. It was a moment that earned praise from his manager, as United manager Eddie Howe gave an indication of how highly he rates Miley, saying: “That pass for the assist sort of represents him. To have that composure in that moment when you're so young and thrust into your debut at home, the temptation is to shoot, but he resisted that and had the ability to spot Alex, so it was a brilliant pass and also a brilliant finish.

“I thought his general performance was very good. I thought he showed the composure that we saw during pre-season – I thought he executed a very good pre-season, played very well - and he's going to be a key player for us in he next few weeks."

With a new opportunity for recruitment just around the corner, the Magpies will still target a midfielder during the January transfer window and a loan move for Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips is on the agenda - but is not concern over Miley’s ability to cope at the highest level that is behind their desire to strengthen in that area.

Man City's Kalvin Phillips has failed to break into the starting XI, and could join Newcastle next month.Man City's Kalvin Phillips has failed to break into the starting XI, and could join Newcastle next month.
Man City's Kalvin Phillips has failed to break into the starting XI, and could join Newcastle next month. | Getty Images

The 17-year-old has made a surprisingly comfortable introduction into life in the Premier League and Champions League and has not looked out of place amongst esteemed company. Indeed, Miley has thrived in competition with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Enzo Fernandez and Fabian Ruiz.

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His ability to remain calm in possession even under the most intense situations will not be a surprise to staff at the Magpies academy or supporters that watch the United Under-21s sides on regular occasions. There was even an early indication of how Miley would cope with life in the Premier League when he struck the crossbar with a powerful effort against Chelsea when he made his senior bow on the final day of last season.

Promising pre-season performances only enhanced the belief Newcastle had a special talent on their hands and his displays over the last month, when Howe was robbed of the services of Sean Longstaff, Sandro Tonali and Joe Willock, have further enhanced Miley’s growing reputation.

Barring the Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain, Miley’s pass completion percentage has rated above 86 percent in his other four senior appearances so far this season. A mature display in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Manchester United saw the young midfielder complete 35 of his 40 passes and he came close to his first senior goal when Aaron Wan-Bissaka blocked his goalbound shot as the final ten minutes approached at St. James' Park.

Statistics only really tell half of the story when assessing Miley's impact on the Newcastle side. The words of others tell the remainder. His performances have received praise from his manager, team-mates and pundits, with Magpies legend Alan Shearer hailing Miley as ‘outstanding’ following the win against Chelsea and Kieran Trippier describing the youngster as ‘the future of Newcastle’ in the aftermath of the draw in Paris.

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Getty Images

The England right-back said: “Again, quality. 17-years-old…yeah, he can all the way to the top. To step in at a place like this, against this opposition…he wasn’t out of place. He showed he’s calm on the ball and he’s honestly an unbelievable player. He’s got a bright future ahead of him and the good thing about him is it feels like he’s played 500 games already. He’s going to be the future of Newcastle.”

In an ideal world, Miley’s learning curve would have been experienced in Carabao Cup ties and with substitute appearances in the Premier League - but this is not an ideal world for Howe as the Magpies manager copes with an ever increasing list of injuries that has robbed him of over £200m worth talent in recent weeks.

Yet in adversity, the Magpies have flourished and their talented young midfielder has been a big part of that success with a level of performance that belies his age and lack of experience at the very top level of the game. Newcastle will target a midfielder in the January transfer window but there can be no greater compliment for Miley than to suggest it is not as high up their list of priorities as it once was.

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