By Joe Ellis

14th Jan, 2022 | 2:40pm

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe warns Everton off Sean Longstaff

Everton have been given the hands-off warning from Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe as reports of interest in Sean Longstaff persist.

The Sunday Express reported in their print edition [9 January, page 65] that after an opening bid was rejected, the Blues are ready to make a second offer to sign a player who, during his time in the North East, Raga Benitez dubbed “the next Carrick” [The Guardian].

Howe, though, insists that Longstaff will stay at St. James’ Park to not only help them survive relegation this season but push onto greater things beyond then.

“Sean has a long-term future at this football club,” Howe said in his press conference, as quoted by newcastleworld.com.

“I’ve been impressed with him since I came in. He’s been committed, trained well and earned his place in the team.

“We’re looking for a response from the team and Sean is part of that team.”

Not all is lost

This latest development in the saga is not one that Everton fans particularly wanted to read but it might not be as bad as it sounds.

Yes, Longstaff is an important part of the Magpies’ squad right now and he may continue to be until the end of this season, but by then his contract could have run its cause.

You would expect Newcastle will enter negotiations with the local lad but he could see his future away from the black and white stripes with high quality, high-value players likely to arrive in the summer.

Maybe this is actually a blessing in disguise for Benitez and Everton who could see Longstaff enter Goodison Park as a free transfer rather than having to pay a substantial fee to bring him in now.

Providing Everton stay up, which looks increasingly likely despite their struggle to hit consistent form, they can wait six months to get Longstaff in.

In other Everton news, this Sky Sports pundit has predicted Everton’s game away at Norwich on Saturday (15 January).