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Manchester United ‘on the verge’ of signing Nico Gonzalez with Nicky Butt continuing Academy overhaul

Manchester United are reportedly ‘on the verge’ of signing Barcelona youth player Nico Gonzalez this summer. The 16-year-old central midfielder is the son of Fran Gonzalez, a former Deportivo La Coruna player, and current Manchester City coach. Gonzalez spent last season as the captain of the Cadet A team and was set to be promoted to the Juvenil A team ahead of the new season. Spanish newspaper, Diario Sport, last week reported that the landscape on Gonzalez’s future had changed.

The main reason behind the change is down to David Harrison, a former City coach who now works for United. Harrison, Gonzalez and his father all share a good relationship, which could well be down to the fact United have emerged as the contenders for the players signature this summer. United’s Academy head, Nicky Butt has been trying to sign talented players from Europe in order to keep United’s Academy on track for success, which last season saw the U18s win the U18 Premier League North title, falling to Chelsea for the overall title.

It is expected that many of the talented U18 players from last season will be promoted to the U23s this summer, with that age group seeking to overcome relegation to the second division if the Premier League 2. This can be suggested by the fact that United have named 11 first-year scholars who will be drafted into the U18s this summer ready for the new season. One of the players within this intake is Harvey Neville, the son of former United player Phil Neville.

Gonzalez has been linked with City heavily in 2016 after Pep Guardiola became the manager for the club. No move materialised for the player. At Barcelona right now, Gonzalez has been left out of the Juvenil A and B squads whilst his future hangs in the balance. Gonzalez has described as a central defensive midfielder and is comfortable on the ball. This would be expected of a player coming through the La Masia Academy at Barcelona.

If Gonzalez does opt to move to United, he will be the fifth youth player to snub a future at La Masia with Pablo Moreno, Robert Navarro, Adrià Bernabé, and Joel López all leaving before him. When City were interested in him two years ago, despite being 14 at the time, with players in Europe only allowed to head overseas once they turn 16, the fact his move would have been considered as family reasons, not footballing reasons would have seen the move ratified, being that his father is a coach at City.

United’s first team have seemingly stuttered to a halt over the past week in terms of new acquisitions this summer, despite signing Diogo Dalot, Fred, and Lee Grant so far this summer. However, for Butt and the Academy, it seems that United are pressing on ready for the new season, also scouting Norwegian striker Erling Braut Haaland for the second time in a week this weekend. The U18s, despite losing some talented player as they look to test themselves in the U23s this season, could still be a team to entertain this season with plenty of options hanging in the balance right now.

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