Reports emerged this week that Charlie McNeill is set to join Manchester United’s academy after announcing he wouldn’t be signing a contract with Manchester City last month.
Those paying attention to youth football have known about McNeill for a while, with him racking up an impressive 110 goals and 38 assists in 72 games for City’s U15s and England’s U16s, when he was just 14. Now, by the age of 16, he has over 600 goals at academy level.
When Brahim Diaz moved to Real Madrid and Jadon Sancho joined Borussia Dortmund due to a lack of playing time, McNeill was a player City had high hopes of making it. Phil Foden is the only academy graduate to get anything like regular playing time in the Premier League after the owners invested hundreds of millions of quid in to their youth system, and even then, he only has eight starts this season despite their title hopes fading away just a few months in to the campaign.
McNeill, a United fan who played for our youth teams until he was 10, played above his age level at City but didn’t get much playing time for the U-18s this season, making just a handful of substitute appearances. So like other talented players before him, McNeill made the decision to leave City and as he’s not 17, a fee will have to be agreed via a tribunal if the two clubs can’t come to an agreement.
Last month it was claimed that McNeill was on his way to RB Leipzig with Juventus also having shown an interest. Noah Ohio made the same career move after rejecting a contract from City last year, who also left United for City, but it appears as though McNeill has his heart set on returning to his boyhood club.