Josh Harrop has admitted that he has entertained the idea of making a return to Manchester United one day after joining Preston North End.
The 21-year-old announced himself on the world stage with a goal just 15 minutes into his senior debut during a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in May.
He was reportedly offered a new contract, which expired in June, but instead agreed to join Preston on a free transfer ahead of the 2017/18.
But Harrop, reflecting on the move, admitted that deciding to leave Old Trafford wasn’t easy.
“That was great timing to be fair because he was looking for players he needed. To get a hat-trick in front of him helped me in giving me a chance to make my debut,” he said.
“The manager had a few jokes and laughs, asking me could I do that every week! He asked me would I like the chance to play for Manchester United and, of course, I said yeah.
“It was the hardest decision I ever made. I’m a United fan and supported them since I was born. It was a massive decision to leave.
“But it was the right time and age and I needed to play games. I wanted to go and play games.
“United said there would not be much pathway for me to get the minutes that I wanted. At that point, I said I have to go and play and prove myself.
“To see lads from the same group as me getting their chance, I wish them all the best. These are lads who have trained all their lives for these moments.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m really pleased for them.
And when asked about a potential return to Old Trafford one day, Harrop admitted he’d thought about such a prospect.
“Obviously, at the minute, I’m focused on playing and impressing in the league and that’s at Preston and doing well at Preston.”
“It’s gone through my head, going back. I don’t know what I would do if it did occur.”
Harrop did the right thing by choosing to move to a club promising regular football. He is, after all, 21 years of age – the same age as Anthony Martial – and his excellent debut at Old Trafford triggered a unique outburst of interest from other clubs that no professional in his predicament would have turned down.
But you can tell that, deep down, Preston is just a stepping stone. He received a taste of excelling at life and the very top and it could very well be the catalyst for forcing a return to the Theatre of Dreams further down the line.