Manchester United seemingly have a never-ending stream of highly-rated talent coming out of their famed youth academy, and Charlie McNeil could be the latest gem to make the step up to the senior ranks.
The 18-year-old’s journey has been far from straightforward, though. In 2013, the boyhood United fan decided to turn his back on the Red Devils and sign for local rivals Manchester City instead.
It’s believed that the clinical striker bagged over 600 goals for the Cityzens during his seven-year stay before turning down an extremely lucrative contract offer in order to return to the Old Trafford outfit.
A report in Goal outlined City’s hopes for the youngster a couple of years ago, claiming McNeil could fill the gap that Brahim Diaz and Jadon Sancho left following their departues to Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, respectively.
“McNeill is just 14 but has been making a name for himself in the City academy for the past few years,” Sam Lee wrote – now of The Athletic – in a piece titled ‘Brahim and Sancho gone – but Man City have other teenage sensations’.
“The tall forward has proven to be impressive with both feet and has scored a bagful of goals at all junior levels: 110 goals and 38 assists in 72 games for City’s U15s and England‘s U16s.
“Those familiar with the City youth set-up believe he is one of the best prospects of any age group and is definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming years.”
However, Pep Guardiola’s charges were forced to wave goodbye to a third talented prospect in quick succession after McNeil turned down their offer in favour of making his United comeback.
And the teenager has certainly lived up to expectations in the red half of Manchester. In 23 appearances for the Under-18s last term. McNeil bagged an incredible 25 goals, providing a further six assists for his teammates.
His outstanding displays for Travis Binnion’s charges earned him a call-up to the U23s setup for the current campaign, although he’s finding life slightly tougher.
A return of two goals and one assist in 10 has left room for improvement, but given time to adapt and mature, McNeil will surely prove himself to be as deadly as ever in the weeks and months to come.
The Telegraph have previously described the attacker as a ‘lethal finisher’ who is ‘comfortable with both feet’, giving United fans plenty of reasons to be excited over the Englishman’s future prospects.