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Derby County manager Frank Lampard seeking to buy Demetri Mitchell this summer

Manchester United academy graduate Demetri Mitchell is a target for Derby County manager Frank Lampard this summer, according to reports. The Sun has claimed that the former Chelsea player is seeking a permanent deal worth £500,000 for the defender. Mitchell already has many followers amongst United’s fan base who would like to see him develop into a player capable of occupying either the left-back or the left-wing, or a role in between at the club in the future.

Mitchell, 21, had a loan spell with Hearts in the Scottish Premiership last season where he was highly regarded by his manager, teammates and most importantly the supporters of the club. Sadly his season ended prematurely due to injury. Mitchell will be seeking to find out what his future holds for him at United, seeing Ashley Young emerge as the first-choice left-back at the club last season, alongside the speculation earlier this summer which linked Luke Shaw with a move away from the Old Trafford club.

The 21-year-old made his first team debut at United on the final day of the Premier League 2016/17 season against Crystal Palace with United winning the match 2-0. Many youth players made their debuts that day, including Josh Harrop, who left promptly that summer for Preston North End and Angel Gomes, who became the youngest debutant since Duncan Edwards at the club. Mitchell thought his inclusion would bring more opportunities in the first team, but that is not what happened.

Before going on loan to Hearts in January 2018, Mitchell revealed what Jose Mourinho had said to him ahead of the Palace game where he made his debut. Mitchell had only been playing as a fullback for around two years, being converted from a winger/wing-back with Nicky Butt commending the defensive side of his game. Reported by the Manchester Evening News at the time, Mitchell had said:

“It was special making my debut for the club against Crystal Palace. The manager just brought me in and told me that, although every game is important, there was no pressure on me. It was the end of the season and I really enjoyed it. Obviously I hoped it would lead to more opportunities at United but that hasn’t happened, so that’s why I was so keen to go out on loan.”

Confirming that Butt, now the head of United’s academy but at the time was coaching the U23s, had switched him to a more defensive role at the club, Mitchell, speaking to the Scotsman, said:

“Hearts got in touch with United because they have been looking for a left-back and I seemed to fit the bill for them. I’ve been told Hearts have been needing a left-back for a while so hopefully, I can help out with that. My aim is to play as much as I can and help the team finish the season strongly.

“I have only turned into a left-back over the last two seasons. I was a winger or a wing-back before that. But Nicky Butt, the Under-23 manager at Manchester United [at the time], thought I did the defensive side of the game well. He moved me back there and I have been doing a lot of work to learn the position.

“I think I have been getting better at it. It feels more natural to me now and I’m adapting well. I can play as a wing-back if it’s five at the back, or at full-back if it’s a flat four.”

The Sun suggests that Mitchell has one year remaining on his United contract and the club now need to work out whether they will sell the player this summer, or in effect watch him leave as a free agent in a years time. It would be a shame that a player as talented as Mitchell could leave the club but it would not be the first time that a youth player had not found the form or the chances to occupy a first team place at the club.

United will fly to Los Angeles today [Sunday 15 July 2018] ahead of their pre-season tour which will see them face Club America, San Jose Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool, and Real Madrid in the United States of America, before flying to Munich, Germany to face Bayern Munich five days before the new Premier League season starts. With many first team players missing due to this summers FIFA World Cup, which ends today with France playing Croatia, Mitchell may, in fact, travel with the squad to offer depth in the early matches.

Mitchell would do well playing for Derby County if the report is true that Lampard is seeking to sign him. The Championship club finished in the play-off positions last season, losing to Fulham, the eventual winners. Derby will be seeking to earn promotion back to the Premier League under Lampard this season, whether achieving an automatic promotion or winning the play-off. Bringing in a player as capable as Mitchell would be good for them, despite it seemingly being a loss for United.

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