Whether it’s ‘the next Ronaldo’, ‘the African Neymar’, ‘Sol Campbell reincarnated’ or ‘a Lionel Messi/Luka Modric hybrid’, nothing gets football fans quite as excited as rumours of the next big thing joining their club.
Indeed, the Premier League and yonder has become more obsessed with young players than ever before, and thus, so has the rumour mill that eternally surrounds it.
With that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE hotly-tipped youngsters, ‘world prodigies’ if you will, who the tabloids claim have muscled their way on to Manchester United’s transfer radar.
Could we see some of them move to Old Trafford in the new year?
According to The Telegraph, Manchester United have upped their interest in Martin Odegaard after having a trial with the Red Devils last December:
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) August 28, 2014
The Norway international made history this week as the youngest player to ever feature in the European Championships, at just 15 years and 300 days old.
An attacking midfielder of the scoring and supplying variety, Odegaard has been compared to Lionel Messi by manager David Neilsen, sharing the Barcelona star’s incredible dribbling qualities and low centre of gravity. Here’s a look at him in action:
Odegaard may be a teenager, but he’s already making it look like ‘man vs boys’ in the Norwegian top flight, where he currently plies his trade with Stromsgodset IF.
His three goals in 19 appearances has caught the attention of the European elite, particularly Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, who have all reportedly offered him trials in the last year, whilst Barcelona and Juventus are also said to be interested.
By no means lightweight competition, but Manchester United will fancy their chances of signing the playmaking prodigy.
The last thing Manchester United need right now is another young centre-back thrown into the mix. The fact Johnny Evans, at the ripe old age of 26, is now the most experienced defender on the Old Trafford roster tells its own story of United’s novice nature at the back.
But they could find the opportunity to snap up FC Basel prodigy and long-term transfer target Fabian Schar impossible to ignore in January, in no small part due to his contract entering its final six months.
Statistically speaking, the 22 year-old was the best centre-half in the Champions League last season, as detailed below:
He comes with a real front-footed presence and an eye for goal – just take a look at this wonder strike from the Swiss international’s FC Wil days:
United have lacked a defender of the ball-playing mould ever since Rio Ferdinand’s pace begins to wane, yet it would fit into Louis van Gaal’s attacking philosophy perfectly. Here’s another look at Schar in action:
With Basel set to sell in January however, fearing the possibility of losing Schar for nothing in the summer, a number of top European sides are already queuing up for his signature. Arsenal and Spurs have both been linked:
Arsenal and Spurs set to do battle in Fabian Schar chase? Transfer news and gossip from Sunday’s papers: PLUS:… http://t.co/nmXxnHqwrW
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) September 21, 2014
Whilst Lazio have more recently emerged as potential suitors.
Many were surprised when Memphis Depay signed a new four-year contract with PSV Eindhoven in August, despite being strongly linked with a move to the Premier League throughout the summer:
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) August 5, 2014
Interest stemmed from an impressive World Cup campaign with Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side, bagging two goals and one assist in four appearances for Oranje – including this goal against Australia:
That followed a strong season in the Eredivisie that saw Depay bag twelve goals and seven assists, also dominating the division’s dribbling charts:
And the key pass rankings:
Often referred to as “the Dutch Cristiano Ronaldo” for their shared dead-ball technique, joining Manchester United under van Gaal’s leadership seems like the next logical step in the 20 year-old’s career. Here’s another look at him in action:
But now tied down to four more years at PSV, the Red Devils will have to wait until next summer at the earlies to sign Depay, and likely pay considerably more than originally planned.
Despite currently finding themselves in the Championship’s relegation zone, former top flight side Fulham appear to have produced an entire crop of highly-rated youngsters from their academy.
Indeed, Dan Burn, Konstantinos Stafylidis, Cameron Burgess, Emerson Hyndman, Chris David, Cauley Woodrow and Moussa Dembele have all demonstrated great promise this season, but it’s believed Manchester United, in addition to many of their divisional rivals, have their eye on teenage winger Patrick Roberts:
— It’s Arsenal FC (@itsafcnews) September 22, 2014
The 17 year-old’s first team exposure has been limited compared to some so far this season, with seven of his nine second tier outings, producing one assist along the way, coming from the bench.
His cameo displays have remained eye-catching however – here’s a look at his averages based on per-90-minute metrics:
Already tipped to have a huge future for England at senior level, it appears everybody wants a piece of the Cottagers starlet.
But Fulham’s apparent £10million valuation can’t be justifiably met until Roberts gets more competitive appearances under his belt. Here’s a look at the winger in action:
Southampton’s academy has produced some incredible talents over the last decade, including Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse, and the latest youngster to cause waves at St. Mary’s is Harrison Reed.
The ginger-haired midfielder, already dubbed ‘the next Paul Scholes’ was linked with the Red Devils back in February, after an alleged visit from United’s scouts:
Manchester United have sent scouts to watch Southampton’s highly-rated teenage midfielder Harrison Reed. [Mirror] #mufc
— Man United Updates (@United_Latest) February 21, 2014
The 19 year-old has already made four appearances in the Premier League whilst he’s quickly emerging as an important figure for the Junior Lions, with six outings at U19 and U20 levels since the turn of 2014.
He’s described as ‘tenacious and hard-working’ but is creative and technically talented too – here’s a look at Reed in action:
Another bright prospect for England’s future however, and having extended his contract until 2018 in July, Southampton will expect a huge return if they’re to surrender yet another impressive academy product.