Newcastle United eventually signed Lewis Hall from Chelsea in the summer after being linked with many left-backs.
The young Chelsea man academy graduate grew up a Newcastle fan owing to his Geordie parents and this summer got his dream move to the North East on an initial loan deal which contains an obligation to buy for an initial £28million which could rise to £35million if certain criteria is met.
That's a hefty chunk of change for a teenager, but Hall came with a lot of promise after showing what he can do in a Chelsea shirt last season.
Since his arrival though, things haven't panned out the way Newcastle fans were expecting. There was a buzz around Hall before we signed him and that carried on when the deal was made, but since then we've only had small glimpses of the versatile left-back.
Despite being a right-back, Tino Livramento has been preferred at left-back ahead of Hall during the injury crisis. Even last night, Dan Burn, fresh back from injury was thrown into the mix against AC Milan ahead of Hall and now fans are really starting to wonder what is going on?
We have a few theories with one we believe to be the most likely.
One theory is simply that Howe doesn't want to have too many inexperienced youngsters in the side given how tough our fixtures have been.
Another is that Lewis Hall may not be hitting the mark in training. Anthony Gordon said at the end of last season that when he arrived at Newcastle he just couldn't get up to speed in training as it was so much more intense than what he was used to. It could be the same for Lewis Hall and he just needs time.
However, the theory we're leaning more towards is that there are conditions in the loan agreement that must be met before the obligation to buy becomes active - we don't know this for sure and therefore have no idea what the conditions may be - and Eddie Howe, having had a closer look at Hall maybe doesn't believe he's the player he thought he was so he's making sure that the conditions aren't met so Hall can return to Chelsea next season.
It sounds harsh, sure, but to get to the levels Newcastle want to be at, we have to start being ruthless and if a player isn't cutting it, we have to take action. It is worth noting though, that The Athletic wrote about Lewis Hall recently and stated that he's still very much seen as a player for the future at Newcastle. He was signed as a 'project player' and therefore isn't expected to have much impact in the short term.
As we say, it's pure speculation on our part and The Athletic certainly knows a lot more about things than we do, but it just all seems odd. We'll likely not know the truth until the end of the season, but there has to be some reason why we aren't seeing Lewis Hall given more chances beyond the fact that we've yet to see anything close to his best in black and white.
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