The Newcastle United starlet who can become world class - if he's given the chance

Newcastle United have a youngster with world class potential on their books
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This should have been the year of Lewis Miley. In many respects, it still very much has been. The Newcastle United midfielder has enjoyed a breakout campaign for his boyhood club (can we still use that term when the player in question is essentially still a child?) and were it not for the combination of a lower back complaint and the thunder-stealing emergence of fellow midfield boy prince Kobbie Mainoo, you suspect that a lot more people would currently be talking about the Geordie teenager.

At the time of writing, Miley is facing a stint of several weeks on the sidelines after sustaining an injury while away on international duty with England's U20s. That untimely absence, coupled with the meteoric rise of Manchester United's shiniest new plaything, all but ensures that beyond Tyneside, attentions are likely to shift away from the midfielder for a while to come.

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But as he recovers, and takes a deep breath for the first time since his explosion into the first team back in November, Miley can be immensely satisfied with the seismic impact that he has already had on the Premier League. At just 17, he has made 14 starts in the top flight this season, with a further three substitute appearances to his name, registering three assists and a goal in that time. As for Newcastle, they can rest assured that they have a hugely special talent on their hands.

Because while it is Mainoo who has received a senior England call-up and countless verbose think pieces about his messianic qualities, there is no doubting that Miley is on a steep trajectory of his own. There are not many players of his age who have featured regularly in the Premier League, and fewer still who look so remarkably at home among the absolute elite of the English game.

The genius in Miley's precociousness largely comes from his ability to read the game around him. Generally stationed on the right side of a midfield three, the teenager acts as connective hub between some of the most significant players in Eddie Howe's team; the likes of Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Alexander Isak, and whoever is posted out on the right flank on any given Saturday afternoon. It is, in essence, Miley's job to identify and exploit/cover (delete as applicable depending on whether the Magpies have the ball or not) the spaces that these revered names create/leave around them (again, delete as applicable).

A lesser footballing brain might be overwhelmed by such a multi-faceted brief, but even at 17, Miley looks completely unfazed - filling in, sweeping up, and carving open as is required. Ask any Newcastle supporter, and they will most likely tell you that he is the best young talent that their academy system has produced in many a year. And with good reason.

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Miley's anticipation is sublime; his ability to foresee situations, frankly absurd for somebody so inexperienced. His movement drags opposition players all over the place, disrupting well-pitched lines and opening up gaps for those around him. His distribution is canny and nuanced, his close control, first touch, and technical ability genuinely comparable with some of the very best players in his position in the entire division.

In short, Miley is already operating at the level of a well-established, consistently effective Premier League midfielder - except, and apologies for labouring this point, he is only 17 years old. Just imagine how good he will be in a year's time. Or five years. Or a decade.

The lad boasts an obvious potential that is near-boundless, and it is no exaggeration to suggest that he could one day go on to develop into a world class talent. There are plenty who would swiftly tell you that he is already well on his way.

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