Steve Bruce denied 'privilege' of working with Adam Armstrong

‘The last manager let him go’: Steve Bruce slams Newcastle predecessor Rafa Benitez’s decision to sell Adam Armstrong for just £1.75m… as now-£15m striker prepares to take revenge with Southampton

  • Boyhood Newcastle fan Adam Armstrong was sold by Rafa Benitez back in 2018
  • After impressing for Blackburn he signed for Southampton this summer
  • Steve Bruce has bemoaned not having the ‘privilege’ to work with Arsmtrong

Steve Bruce says the decision of Rafa Benitez to sell Adam Armstrong denied him the ‘privilege’ to work with the striker at Newcastle.

The 24-year-old returns to St James’ Park on Saturday for the first time since making his £15million move to Southampton from Blackburn, the club he joined from Newcastle in a £1.75m deal in 2018.

Armstrong came through the academy with his hometown club and had long been talked about as a future No.9 on Tyneside.

Adam Armstrong is set to return to St James’ Park on Saturday as a Southampton player

Rafa Benitez sold Armstrong while he was Newcastle manager back in the summer of 2018

But he was sold by Benitez having made 21 appearances without scoring a goal. The Magpies did insert a 40-per-cent sell-on clause and recouped around £6m from this summer’s transfer.

Armstrong netted 29 times for Blackburn last season and scored on his Saints debut this month against Benitez’s Everton.

And Bruce, when asked if he was frustrated by the loss of Armstrong given the subsequent outlay of £40m on Brazilian misfit Joelinton, said: ‘There must have been a decision made at that time of, “Is the kid ever going to be good enough to be Newcastle’s centre-forward?”. We have seen it with Ivan Toney as well. Any decision like that you have to look at very carefully.

Steve Bruce says Benitez’s decision denied him the ‘privilege’ of working with Armstrong

‘Them are the decisions we have to make. The previous manager obviously thought he wasn’t quite ready to play for Newcastle.

‘I saw him play for Blackburn and he’s certainly matured. I never had the privilege to work with him; the previous manager let him go. But I’m delighted for him that he’s gone away and made a great living for himself.

‘I didn’t have the chance to work with the lad, but he’ll desperately want to come back here and do well.’

Meanwhile, Bruce has again stated that he has no money to spend this summer. Sportsmail reported in July that the budget had been set at £10m, with an exception made for the subsequent £25m re-signing of loanee Joe Willock from Arsenal.

‘There wasn’t a lot of money in the budget at all,’ said Bruce, who has allowed Matty Longstaff to join Aberdeen on loan.

‘There wasn’t enough money to buy Joe Willock. We broke all of our transfer rules. I believe we paid for it in instalments, which is not the policy of the club.

‘For us to be able to trade, we needed one or two to leave, and that hasn’t happened. There is no money to be had. However, is there a loan deal? That is the market we’re looking at.’

Armstrong joined Southampton in the summer after an impressive stint at Blackburn

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