Sunderland’s youth academy has produced a number of important players for the club over recent years, with the likes of Lynden Gooch, Elliot Embleton and Dan Neil all becoming key parts of the team.
The club also have homegrown duo Anthony Patterson and Benjamin Kimpioka part of the first-team squad, while the likes of Norwich City-owned Bali Mumba, Stoke City striker Josh Maja and Hull City star George Honeyman have all gone on to make excellent starts to their careers after leaving the Stadium of Light.
One man they will be having nightmares over letting go so early is 18-year-old Joe Hugill, who signed for Manchester United back in the summer of 2018 for a £297k fee.
Having scored 12 goals in 21 games this season across the Red Devils’ youth teams, he has slowly become one of the Premier League giants’ most exciting prospects.
“Joe Hugill’s progress has come as a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff at Manchester United who recognised his potential when they brought him in from Sunderland,” said Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper about Hugill’s development last year.
“But the speed of that progress has exceeded expectations, bearing in mind he’s only been at the club for three months.
“Hugill was part of a recruitment drive that has seen some of Europe’s best young talent arrive at Manchester United in recent weeks to not only bolster the club’s Academy but also provide Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with more options further down the line.”
With comparisons made between him and Harry Kane due to his ability to hold the ball up, link-up play and finish clinically, we may finally get to see more of the 6 foot2 forward over the next few seasons, either playing in the Premier League 2, or out-on-loan at a Football League side.
While Sunderland striker Ross Stewart has notched 22 goals already this season, the next highest goalscorer is Embleton with five, level with Nathan Broadhead – and despite goals not particular being the team’s biggest issue, if the North-East club kept Hugill for just a little longer, he would have thrived in League One, and the transfer fee they earned for him could have been far larger.
It’s safe to say this was somewhat of a howler from Stewart Donald to let him move away so easily and indeed cheaply.