According to The Sun (h/t Daily Mirror), three-time European champions Manchester United are interested in signing Burnley’s teenage winger Dwight McNeil.
McNeil, who was an academy graduate with the Red Devils, was released by the latter five years ago, aged 14.
His three assists and one goal in 11 matches has caught the attention of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had earlier stated that he wants to win trophies at the club, but win them with younger players.
The Rochdale-born winger, who still remains a Man United fan despite being snubbed by the club for his poor set-piece abilities, would want to change their impressions if at all the deal goes through.
Burnley, meanwhile, are not so keen to part with their in-form winger for whom they have set a price-tag of £35m.
McNeil could follow the likes of Paul Pogba, who was released by the club in 2012 but was later bought back in 2016 after impressive displays at Juventus.
Should the deal progress, would it be a good one? Let’s find out.
McNeil’s arrival would usher in Ole’s philosophy of grooming and playing with a band of young players rather than competing with established stars.
The speedy winger could add more pace and menace to the United attack which already has three youngsters upfront in Marcus Rashford (22), Anthony Martial (23) and new signing Daniel James (21).
For a squad with an average age of around 26 years, Ole definitely seems to be an admirer of young blood and McNeil’s inclusion would add more vigour and depth to a squad which is tenth on the table right now.
The Burnley winger has been, by all means, a better performer than United’s attackers. Except for Marcus Rashford, the rest have just been average and the stats prove so.
Rashford has an overall rating of 7.16 on whoscored while McNeil’s read 6.99. Unlike the Englishman, the others have not been up to par.
Recent signing James, who is comfortable playing on either wing has an overall rating of 6.80 on whoscored, slightly lesser than teenager McNeil.
Anthony Martial, another winger, who plays on the left side usually has been given the finisher’s role this season by Ole and he has done justice to it with three goals and one assist in five games. Despite that, the Frenchman stays behind young Neil with an average of 6.98.
If provided an opportunity, the Burnley winger might want to change his former club’s impressions about him.
With the kind of history that they share, the youngster will be eager to make a mark and this would bring healthy competition within the United ranks.
Since Rashford has been in exceptional form, scoring five goals and assisting thrice, he is a sure choice to play on the left. So the battle for a starting spot on the other wing would mainly involve James and McNeil.
With Jesse Lingard having made just four appearances, this would give away to a healthy rivalry within the United dressing room, offering Ole a variety of options to choose from.
For a boy who was rejected at the age of 14, this move back to his former club will be a win-win for both parties.
Firstly, he would be raring to prove his former club wrong and nobody in their sane sense would want to make the same mistake twice. And secondly, he is filled with confidence, having made a mark at Burnley.
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