Crewe Alexandra’s youth set up is often regarded as one of the best in England, with players of the quality of Danny Murphy, Dean Ashton and Robbie Savage all benefiting from it in recent years and lately it seems that one 16 year old midfielder is on the rise to prominence.
Nick Powell is the latest player to be linked with a Premier League raid after impressing Arsene Wenger’s scouting network whilst playing for England under 16’s in a tournament in France and he is being hotly tipped to become a star.
But just who is he?
Well, born on 23rd March 1994, he is a midfielder that can also play as a striker and he signed scholarship forms at Crewe in 2010 after progressing through the ranks as a small boy. He took part in under-18 football at the tender of 15 having be recognised as a super talent by Dario Gradi and his team whilst his first taste of first-team action was as a substitute against newly-promoted Blackpool earlier in pre-season. His youth coaches described his talent as being “limitless” in terms of where it can take him in the game and he made his full debut against Cheltenham Town in August.
The 16-year-old has already been the subject of a £1million bid from Arsenal, according to the News of the World, but Crewe’s veteran boss Dario Gradi is holding out for more, having tied Powell down to a three year deal at the club.
He said: “We have to deal with speculation when they are coming through, and in many ways we do treat it as a compliment. Our academy youngsters are not for sale at any price.”
Gradi continued: “It was the same when Arsenal asked about Dean Ashton [who made his debut for Crewe as a 16-year-old in 2000]. David Dein [former Arsenal vice-chairman] phoned me and said there must be a price I would be prepared to sell him for, and I told him there wasn’t. There was no point even discussing it and he accepted that.”
And such a desire to keep him, coupled with the interest of Arsenal at such a young age is a clear indicator of his talents. Gradi is keen to keep hold of the academy products and said he just wants what is best “for the kid” and that they want to keep “good players for their own supporters”.
But should Powell continue to develop and eventually join a top club, Crewe must be lavished with praise for their tremendous work with their youth setup that has instigated some fantastic that are still going today whilst admitting that eventually being nurtured by Arsenal and playing among some of the finest starlets from across Europe will benefit the player.