Producing top-class young talent is nothing new for Manchester United and they may have their next superstar already waiting in the wings at the Theatre of Dreams.
The Guardian newspaper recently published their annual Next Generation list where they profile the next crop of talent rising through the ranks at Premier League clubs, and named amongst the division’s current crop of wonderkids was United’s very own Ethan Ennis.
After making the controversial switch from fierce rivals Liverpool, the 16-year-old bagged a 15-minute hat-trick as a substitute on his FA Youth Cup debut against Sutton United last season, illustrating why the 20-time English champions were so keen to add him to their setup.
The teenager looked set for a bright future at his boyhood club but rejected a scholarship offer from the Merseysiders, putting other top academies on red alert.
With both Chelsea and United vying for the forward’s signature, Ennis eventually decided to make the switch from one northwest powerhouse to another, announcing his decision to sign for the 20-time English champions on Instagram.
“I am delighted to announce that I have signed for Manchester United,” he wrote. “Grateful for this opportunity, can’t wait to get started.”
Ennis added two more goals and an assist for United’s under-18s in the remainder of the campaign after his treble against Sutton, earning praise from several impressed onlookers, who are already tipping him for greatness.
“He is two-footed, commanding in the air, and jet-heeled. In recent years United have produced Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood: might Ennis be next to hit the big time?” wrote The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson.
Famed for his eye for goal, impressive dribbling ability and brilliant passing range from his favoured number 10 position, there’s a genuine possibility that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could unearth Juan Mata‘s natural heir in the 16-year-old.
The 33-year-old Spaniard is nearing the end of his time at Old Trafford, and with Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek all being linked with moves away as well in recent months, the club’s engine room may be in need of a refresh over the coming months.
Whether Ennis is ready to make the step up to first team football anytime soon remains to be seen, but he’s certainly one of several exciting academy products at United worth keeping an eye on.