Standard Liege handed the former Arsenal midfielder a lifeline, and he’s started the last four games, his last being a 2-1 win over Club Brugge.
“Standard is a great club, with fantastic fans,” Hayden, speaking ahead of that game, told Walfoot. “Their way of supporting is incredible. We played well in all three games, but scoring eight goals after nine games is not enough. I’m happy with my start but we can reach a better level.”
Hayden confirmed he had “options” to remain in England but wanted a new challenge.The Newcastle United midfielder is rebuilding his career away from St James’ Park.
Isaac Hayden is enjoying life at Belgian side Standard Liege as he hopes his injury problems are well and truly behind him.
The 28-year-old spent last season on loan at Norwich City but was restricted to just 14 appearances because of ongoing knee trouble. The Canaries had an obligation to buy Hayden if they achieved promotion back to the Premier League but fell considerably short by not even making the Championship play-offs.
Hayden trained away from Eddie Howe’s first-team over the summer before seeing moves to Premier League newcomers Luton Town and Championship side Sheffield Wednesday fall through during the final week of the summer transfer window.
“I had options in England, but as I got older I wanted to try something different,” he continued. “I will be 29 at the end of the season, it was the right time for me to try a new championship, a new challenge.
“With no disrespect to the Championship, I think I’m better than that when I’m at my best. I have played for three of the best teams in the division, I know what I can do when I am fit and I preferred to change leagues to continue performing at a high level.
“I was playing every game for Newcastle, got injured and didn’t play again. Things can happen very quickly in football. My focus is only on Standard and we’ll see if one day I want to return to England.”
Hayden was signed by Rafa Benitez in 2016 and in his first season helped Newcastle win the Championship title.
In total, he has made 171 appearances for the club, though last featured in December 2021 after being left out of the 25-man squad for the second half of the 2021-22 campaign.
He’s still under contract at St James’ Park until 2026.