There’s no doubt that Manchester United’s recruitment at men’s first team level has been questionable in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. However, at Academy level, particularly in the last few years, it’s been second to none.
The club has used its scouting and recruitment teams well to sign up some of the most promising youth talent around.
Results on the pitch have reflected the backroom work and, after some recent impressive wins, the under 18s find themselves 2 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the youth Premier League and with a tasty FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Liverpool around the corner.
Here are three players to watch from the youth ranks:
United pulled off a bit off a coup in signing Charlie McNeill from City’s Elite Development Squad last year. McNeill had previously been on United’s books but switched to City’s ranks in 2014.
He’s a talented goal scorer and is great at sniffing out chances with movement. This season, he has 16 goals in 17 games. However, he also has good pace and control, can drop a shoulder and set up team mates.
If he continues his form and goalscoring stats into next season and Under 23 level, it won’t be long until he is considered for first team training.
12 months ago, Fish signed his first pro contract with United after being part of the academy for years, and things are moving fast for him. At 17, he has already captained the Under 23 side putting in commanding center back performances along the way.
At nearly 6’2”, he can impose his height and strength on forwards and shut down attacks. He is an excellent tackler but can also pass the ball forward well.
He has all the attributes to become a top defender but as always, the competition is strong ahead of him with the likes of Teden Mengi on loan at Derby.
Mejbri is a fantastic footballer and is in the mix to make a first team debut this season. But he has a big price on his head, having signed for United’s academy as a 16 year old from Monaco in 2019, for a fee potentially rising to 10 million euros (£8.6m).
He recently signed a new long term contract and was moved into first team training but a shoulder injury has hampered progress into the match day squad.
His style is slightly languid but has great vision, technique and skill. He can play in several midfield positions but for now, it looks like his best position is a creative number 8. He also has a bit of aggression in his game.
United fought off strong competition for his signature. Still only 18 but a mainstay in the Under 23s, he has 4 goals and 7 assists in 19 appearances so far this season.