Manchester United are tying down their most talented academy graduates to long-term deals and Will Fish is the latest name to put pen to paper. The defender will be staying at Old Trafford until at least June 2025, with the option of an additional year.
“Manchester United is delighted to announce that Will Fish has signed a new long-term contract with the club. Fish has agreed a new deal that will keep him at United until at least June 2025, with the option to extend for a further year.
“Everyone at Manchester United is looking forward to seeing the 19-year-old prospect continue his development at the club in the coming months and years,” a statement on the club’s official website read.
The centre-back made his debut for the Red Devils under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the last match of the 2020-21 season against Wolverhampton Wanderers. United won the match 2-1.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) June 29, 2022
The defender was a late substitute, replacing former winger Daniel James in the 78th minute. He was also on the bench for the English giant’s second leg quarterfinal tie against Granada in the Europa League.
The 19-year-old’s impressive displays for United’s reserve side meant Solskjaer took Fish along for United’s pre-season tour.
The Mancunian’s strengths include his physical prowess and leadership qualities. This can be evidenced from the fact that he has captained England up to the U-19 level.
Fish is the second Red Devil to sign a new deal this week after Zidane Iqbal. The club are in talks with Alejandro Garnacho’s representatives as well.
Will Fish’s first-team chance?
With opportunities set to be limited with the arrival of Raphael Varane, Fish was sent out on loan to Stockport County in the National League last season. He made only five senior appearances but the experience of the move certainly benefitted the youngster.
Nick Cox, United’s Head of Academy opined that the move really paid off despite the lack of game time.
“Will has learnt a great deal over the last few months, enjoying a range of experiences that will benefit him throughout his career,’ Cox told manutd.com.
“He loved his time with Stockport County and we have clearly seen how much Will has developed physically and mentally over the last few months.
“There are many different perspectives on loans and people often just look at the number of games played but there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. Training every day in a first-team environment and learning from senior professionals, at just 18, is a fantastic opportunity.”
The club had one of its worst seasons in history with the defence in particular having to cope with a lot of criticism. New boss Erik ten Hag has indicated that three defenders — Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly — are all available for transfer.
With no deal for a defender in place yet, Fish might be the one to benefit. He was part of the group that trained under the new manager at Carrington on Monday.
If he can impress during pre-season training as well as on tour, he could just be made a part of the first-team squad. The Europa League group stages will be the best place to blood the talented academy graduates.