Towards the end of the season, talk begins about players incoming and outgoing. It’s no different at youth levels and already three youngsters are set to leave Manchester United.
Jonny Sutherland is out of contract and is already on the Professional Footballers Association Transfer List.
Having been a regular substitute goalkeeper at Under-21 level last season with three performances under his belt, as well as being added to last season’s Champions League B list, this season hasn’t gone as well for Sutherland.
He signed on as a third year scholar for the 2013/14 season and was an unused substitute once for United’s Under-21s. The 20-year-old stopper went on two work experience loans – firstly to Bolton Wanderers’ where he made a couple of appearances before heading to non-league Stafford Rangers, where he made two appearances.
With the amount of young keepers in United’s youth ranks at the moment, it was probably inevitable that someone would have to go in that position.
Nicholas Ioannou posted a photo on his personal Instagram account confirming that the Under-18s game against Tottenham Hotspur would be his last in a Manchester United jersey.
He took on the captain’s armband that day and led the Under-18s to only their second clean sheet of the season as they won 1-0. Seemingly, Ioannou wasn’t offered a new contract by United which came as a bit of a surprise to regular youth followers, especially since he is just 18.
He plays in central defence usually but can also play at left back. He’s a tenacious defender who is comfortable on the ball and has the ability to bring play forward with his great runs through the middle. As United don’t have tons of central defenders in the youth ranks, it makes it even more surprising news that United wouldn’t keep him around, especially since over the years many less talented players have been retained for longer.
However, the most surprising of the departures is that of Ben Barber. Similarly to Ioannou, it appears that Barber has not been offered a contract by United.
Personally, I would have picked Barber as the Under-18s player of the season* for his consistent performances at left-back. The 18-year-old has huge potential and has been given high praise by United legend Arthur Albiston when he has commentated on the Under-18 matches.
Again, it appears that his last match for United is the 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. It is another strange decision as it is difficult to find left-sided players, especially in a defensive role. It is a weak area in the first team squad and of the older left-backs at youth, it’s difficult to see them taking a first team berth.
*That award is judged by the coaches only. It is not open to a public vote. This is solely the opinion of the author. The award will be given at the Player of the Year award ceremony.
Update – Both Barber and Ioannou have now left United. Barber has gone to Blackburn and Ioannou has joined a club in Cyprus