By Matt Farr
Newcastle midfielder Isaac Hayden insists St. James’ Park was the best place for him to be this season, despite reported Premier League interest last summer.
The 22-year-old was snapped up by manager Rafa Benitez at the start of the season on a five-year deal from Arsenal, and has since become a huge asset for the club.
He has been an ever-present member of the first team squad for Newcastle this season, making 35 appearances in all competitions, contributing one goal and four assists.
However, despite reported interest from other Premier League clubs – including Hull – Hayden revealed to the Chronicle that he didn’t want to have to fight his way into another top-flight side.
Instead, he admitted he wanted an opportunity to improve his game with Newcastle before making a return to the Premier League.
He said: “I didn’t want to go straight from a Premier League club of the stature of Arsenal to then try to get in at a Premier League club again.
“I needed the chance to actually improve as a player to get to the level of being a Premier League player because you don’t want to go from Premier League to Premier League and then be in the same position and not play because you don’t improve.
“For me, this was the best club for me and that was the most important thing. It was a club of great ambition and with the manager we have got, I knew from the start the aim was to get into the Premier League.”
A promising Arsenal academy product, Hayden had struggled to break into the first team setup at the Emirates, and sealed a season-long loan move to Hull for the 2015-16 campaign.
He made 24 appearances for the club as they sealed promotion to the top flight, with then-manager Steve Bruce keen to re-sign him last summer.
However, Hayden opted to make the switch to relegated Newcastle, where he looks set to secure promotion back to the top flight with a victory over Preston on Monday.
In other Newcastle transfer news, the Magpies have made this playmaker priority signing this summer.