Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden will be wondering what he has done wrong this season to see him fall from first team starter to occasional substitute.
The real answer is, on match day, he has done very little wrong, and that the performances of Mohamed Diame, finding some new-found success as a defensive midfielder after dropping back into the middle of the park, has seen Hayden’s game time limited.
Naturally the only ball winning midfielder at the club, with the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Mikel Merino bringing a creative aspect to their games, Hayden’s first season in the Premier League has not gone to plan, and it could be about to get worse for him over the summer.
Spanish publication AS claim on their website that the Magpies are still mulling over a move for Eibar captain Dani Garcia after chasing him in the January window, and that the 27-year-old is set to depart on a free transfer with his contract expiring in the summer.
While another central midfielder would not harm the squad, with four already at St James’ Park, the fact Garcia is a defensive minded player does not bode well for Hayden.
Manager Rafael Benitez is unlikely to require three ball winners in his squad, with Diame and Hayden battling it out, and were the Spaniard to arrive from Spain’s top flight over the summer, one of the pair looks destined for the axe.
While Diame is older and reaching the end of his contract, he is also the proven talent in the Premier League, and Hayden’s hit and miss performances have not helped the former Arsenal man’s cause.
It could be he departs on loan if Garcia joins, but there can be no ruling out a permanent exit, with his stock price higher than it was when he signed from the Gunners in 2016, handing the Magpies a healthy profit.
Whatever happens, Hayden, who has 26 appearances under his belt this season, will be hoping for more meaningful game time between now and the end of the season – he could well be playing for his future on Tyneside.
In other Newcastle United transfer news, the Magpies are expected to make a swoop for the Toon Army’s dream target this summer.