Highly promising Academy youngster Lewis Hall left Chelsea in the summer to sign with Newcastle United, bidding farewell to his boyhood club to join the club his family support — and more importantly, a club where he saw a better pathway into the first-team.
The deal was (and still is) technically just a loan between the clubs, but there were future considerations as well, possibly conditional. Chelsea called it an option to buy; Newcastle called it an obligation. Hall posted a goodbye letter on social media; he certainly didn’t seem to think there was any doubt about the loan turning into a transfer.
And yet, as we approach the halfway point of the season, his future appears to be in a bit of a limbo.
The aforementioned pathway has not really materialized for him — ironically blocked by another former Chelsea Academy standout, Tino Livramento — and his own head coach seems confused by the whole situation. In fairness, it’s not Eddie Howe’s job to know every detail of every contract, but this one seems like it would be pertinent information to discuss for squad planning purposes not just for this season. (We recently saw how Andrey Santos’ playing time was so specifically affected by his loanee status, for example, though admittedly that was an extreme situation.)
“You’re probably asking the wrong man, I’m not 100 per cent sure. It’s not mine [decision to make]. For me, he’s here now, he’s a Newcastle player. But I think there’s certain criteria he has to meet.”
“Lewis is a really talented player. He has huge technical qualities. He is creative and has very good final delivery. He’s a really good attacking full-back. He’s got certain things to learn defensively, which we’re working on with him. But he’s a young age and also recently converted to a left-back. There needs to be a little bit of understanding that he may take a little bit of time to get the defensive solidity that we’re looking for, but he’s a player of such high promise.”
-Eddie Howe; source: Mail
Hall’s relative lack of playing time — just six appearances across all competitions, and in three of his four starts, he was pulled at half-time — and the continuing confusion about his contract has led to some suggestions that he might be coming back to Chelsea at the of the season after all.
It’s probably not too wild to suggest that he might have been involved just as much, if not more, had he stayed, given our constant availability issues at both full back and midfield.
I’d guess it’s still a lot more likely that he stays at Newcastle for good, than any other outcome ... but you never know in football...