After a stint at Brighton and Hove Albion for the 2015/16 season, Manchester United striker James Wilson could be sent out on loan again as a reported five clubs are interested in the youngster. The 20-year-old burst onto the scene for United during Ryan Giggs’ time as interim manager at Old Trafford following the firing of David Moyes. Wilson scored twice on his debut against Hull City at Old Trafford and had shown potential as a future star striker for United. Louis van Gaal gave Wilson a small chance during the Dutchman’s first season in Manchester, even making him change his number from 47 to 49 in order to be more like a striker’s number. Wilson did not succeed, partly due to the competition between many forwards such as Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Wilson only started twice that season, and Van Gaal loaned out the striker for the following season.
Wilson had little success in his 24 league appearances for Brighton as he only found the back of the net on five occasions. Now, with Marcus Rashford becoming a consistent player in the first team and the expected addition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wilson will have difficulty getting into Mourinho’s squad. Wilson is not the only young United striker to look to get into the first team as 20-year-old Ashley Fletcher could push Wilson further down the pecking order after an extremely successful loan at Barnsley. Fletcher looks to be on his way to Leeds United on a permanent deal and might not pose any threat to Wilson at United. According to the Daily Star, the five clubs interested in signing the Englishman on loan for the upcoming season are Birmingham, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull. Any of these clubs should suit Wilson, as all could be in the Premier League in a year’s time. Wilson has a chance to play a big role with one of these clubs in earning them promotion to the top flight.
His time is running out to make a name for himself at United and prove that he can make it in the first team. Mourinho would only make it harder for him because of the Portuguese manager’s negative reputation in terms of youth players. On the other hand, with the potential signing of Ibrahimovic, Wilson could learn from a legendary striker of Zlatan’s caliber. Wilson would probably not see much playing time for United if he were to stay with the Red Devils, but he could have a learning experience that might help him get to the level that many expected from him after his debut over two years ago.
It will be a tough task to ask of Wilson to get back into first team play at United. Rashford had a similar impact in his debut that Wilson did, but Rashford kept going and has kept consistent since his debut. What Wilson brings is similar to Rashford. His movement is solid, he has a nose for goal and he his quick. All of these qualities are seen in Rashford, which makes it difficult to see Rashford sat to give Wilson a chance given the phenomenal form that Rashford is in. Mourinho would have to give in to the United ideology of giving younger players opportunities in the first team, something that Van Gaal was able to keep. Mourinho may wait and see how Wilson does this season on loan to decide on the former academy player’s career at Old Trafford.
Wilson would have been another United academy success story. Time will only tell if Wilson can turn around his career, and it is getting to the point that this upcoming season could be his final chance to prove his worth while on loan. An inclusion in the pre-season squad would help his case as it did with Van Gaal last summer in the United States. Regardless, Wilson should push on and show his capability with a loan move in the Championship.