Lewis Miley: Newcastle’s Rising Star in Midfield

In their first full season under Eddie Howe, Newcastle United finished in 4th place and earned a UEFA Champions League spot after a two-decade drought from the competition. Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimaraes, Miguel Almiron, Joe Willock and Joelinton amidst others dazzled throughout the season as Newcastle recorded their highest finish in the Premier League since 2001/2002.


Today, however, Newcastle find themselves in a quagmire with the Magpies currently out of Europe after finishing bottom of their group and in 8th place. To add insult to injury, they’ve lost €70 million signing Sandro Tonali to a ban for gambling offences, with the Italian midfielder suspended from October until August. With Tonali unavailable, one player who has stepped into the fold and emerged as a vital cog in the middle is Lewis Miley.


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Miley made his Premier League debut on May 28, 2023 just three weeks after turning 17, becoming the club’s youngest player in England’s top-flight. Four months later, he was ushered into the first team amidst an injury crisis and made his first start, delivering a composed display at the heart of the pitch as Newcastle edged Manchester City 1-0 to advance to the next round of the EFL Cup.


Bit by bit, Miley has continued to rack up accolades and assert himself as a key figure in midfield, becoming Newcastle’s youngest-ever player to feature in European competition and the youngest-ever player to assist in the Premier League and the Champions League for the Magpies. On December 16, he broke the deadlock within the hour-mark in a 3-0 win vs. 10-man Fulham, becoming the youngest player to score in the Premier League since Federico Macheda in 2009.


Miley’s greatest asset is his intelligence. Eddie Howe has described him as having a “brilliant brain.” This is why he’s been able to play comfortably in the left and right sided central midfield spaces. He is able to receive the ball in zones where he has time and space to read the game and dictate the tempo.


His ability to operate in the wider areas helps Newcastle to be able to stretch the opposition defense. He has an eye for passes to players to facilitate attacks or kill the opposition momentum. Direct passes in between the lines or chipped balls to wide players to force an overload in the last line seem to be his favorite method of creation. He ranks top three for Newcastle United midfielders with 50 progressive passes this season.


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For a midfielder, his movement to attract opposition defenders is elite. It’s even more impressive when you keep in mind the fact that he is just 17 years of age. Miley’s defensive prowess is no small feat. For Newcastle, he ranks top 3 for tackles won per 90 in the middle third (1.52) and has 41 tackles + interceptions in the league for them.


He is also top 5 in blocking opposition passes for Newcastle, per 90 according to fbref.com. Miley is also the least dispossessed Newcastle midfielder (500+ minutes) which means that he is really calm under pressure and can find his way out of a press or a challenge that the opposition player would attempt. He is quite similar to Barcelona’s Gavi in terms of his tenacity when trying to regain possession, averaging 4.3 duels per 90.


An area for improvement in his game is his body positioning when pressing. He usually gives the opponent too much space to use a quick touch to get past him. Miley is also too eager to press an opponent at times so can be baited by the opposition to use the spaces he opens up to attack. However, it has nevertheless been an impressive campaign for Miley, who will miss the next month with an ankle problem.


Lewis Miley has delivered a breakout campaign at St. James Park, enthralling the Toon Army with a maturity and composure that belies his 17 years of age and excelling in midfield with a tireless work-rate and composure under pressure. Alongside Anthony Gordon, Tino Livramento, Harvey Barnes and Joe Willock, he is part and parcel of a promising young English core that is taking root in Newcastle.


By: @princerequiem49

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Neal Simpson / Allstar / Getty Images