Scout Report: Callum Gribbin
There may be little space in the footballing world for the proper development of youngsters, but there are clubs who just end up doing so. Despite of all the money that’s now coming into the game, these clubs somehow end up producing players and are reluctant to spend heavily on foreign talents. Although, Manchester United do the latter but they do the former just as effectively. The likes of Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Butt and the Neville brothers are examples of such players while those such as Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Rafael and Darren Fletcher happen to be some modern examples.
And although, Louis van Gaal has spent in excess of 250 million euros on captures and has attracted a good amount of criticism for it too, but the Dutchman has now begun to impose himself over the youth sides as well. The likes of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Guillermo Varela, Jesse Lingard and Nick Powell are being offered opportunities to shine, bringing to the fore the Iron Tulip’s knack blooming youngsters. And 17-year-old Callum Gribbin is someone who might end up being at the receiving end of an opportunity soon. We run the rule over the Englishman.
Who is Callum Gribbin?
Callum Gribbin, who turned 17 just days ago, can be counted among the lesser known United youth starlets right now. The teenager came to the attention of some fans after an outrageous skill that he pulled off against an Under 18 Aston Villa opposition last season, which involved him showing glimpses of stupefying ball control and silky feet. The skill that he pulled off drew his comparisons with Lionel Messi himself and much like players like Patrick Roberts, Gribbin began to be referred as the ‘English Messi’ too. And the performance against the junior Villains became known to be an exquisite individual performance of that season.
Born in Salford in 1998, Callum Gribbin first jumped onto the scene during his school days. As a 13-year-old, he scored twice at the Ajax Amsterdam Arena during Edwin van der Sar’s testimonial.
Gribbin has risen through the ranks at United and was handed an Under 21’s appearance when he was just 16. It came against Manchester City in the last game of the previous season. The then 16-year-old was selected for the bench, in a game the young Reds triumphed 1-0 away to Sunderland.
Gribbin played every single game of the UEFA Youth League and scored a stunning, curling free kick against PSV in what happened to be a disappointing and a rather forgettable campaign.
He has made 6 appearances for the Under 19’s side too, scoring once and gaining rave reviews from Under 19 coach and former United player Nicky Butt:
“Callum is a confident lad and he’s good at free-kicks.
“He’s scored a few this season already. He’s very confident and both Marcus( Rashford) and him are more than capable of putting the ball in the net and he was delighted with that one”
This past summer, Gribbin had penned a new deal with United after reportedly rejecting attempts from rivals Manchester City and Liverpool for his capture. City were willing to pay as much as £500,000 a year but Gribbin’s decision to stay put, despite of a big offer shows his commitment towards playing for the famed Red shirt. He instead signed his first professional contract at the club, proving that loyalty holds a higher pedestal for the youngster when it comes to what he does.
What kind of a player is he?
One special thing about Gribbin is that he tends to impress at whatever level he plays, or gets selected for. You take the Under 13’s, or the Under 19’s- he’s taken all division he’s played for a ride.
An attacking midfielder by trade, Gribbin can play as a central midfield player too but excels playing when given a more attacking role. He can also be deployed on the right of the midfield and can even play just as effectively, as a centre forward.
What seems to stand out in Gribbin’s play is composure and swagger, much before anything else. No matter what he desires to pull off with the ball at his feet, Gribbin oozes a different sense of calm altogether. It always seems to suggest that- he has every bit of confidence in doing whatever he does on the pitch and it’s the confidence that allows him to execute things to perfection.
That Messi-esque dribble that he popped up with against the Aston Villa Under 18 side doesn’t only reflect how cool he remains in a pressure situation, or when surrounded by three or four opposition players, but also brings to the fore his close control. His pair of quick feet and slick control allows him to beat three players with exquisite skill and it’s followed by a lovely pass forward to the striker, who latches on to it. In a pressure situation, where someone else could’ve easily lost the ball, Gribbin held onto it with exceptional skill and the pass that came up at the end of it, shows incisiveness in passing and how good he is when picking out passing from the midfield.
Another impressive attribute in his play is set piece taking ability. The lad is a deadly free kick taker from close range and putting his left foot through the ball would mean that the ball will land in the back of the net, most of the times. He always places his free kicks to perfection, by bending it round the wall- into the top corner.
He has the courage to take players on, no matter how many of them are there to deny him, he will take them on and try to go past them. He has got a good burst of pace, good enough to beat players as if they aren’t there.
The Salford-born lad is still working on the defensive side of his game. But it almost entirely depends on which position he sticks to in future, as to how much he is supposed to learn it. But learning quality defensive traits at a young age don’t do any harm. Sometimes, Gribbin is found wanting in a defensive sense. He does understand the game well but is prone to committing needless and avoidable fouls once or twice in every game.
And that’s the sole reason why his mentality and his position is changing from a midfield player to a forward.
It has to be said that this kid has got that special something and he’s evidently too good for someone of his tender age. He’s a real joy to watch and his attributes are enough to whet one’s appetite of watching him play more often than we have.
A move to City could’ve transformed him into a sensation limited only to YouTube, but the fact that he’s still a United player would help his progress a lot. Excessive wages in the English game are already proving to be detrimental to players’ career and Gribbin has shown a good amount of intent in rejecting City.
It now depends on what kind of a player Gribbin wants to become- a forward, a winger or a midfield player. And his whole career, which seems bright, hinges on it.