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Manchester United raid Premier League side for youth talent

With all the money at the highest level of professional football, you wouldn’t expect a Premier League club to take cost-cutting measures.

Yet that is exactly what Huddersfield Town have done this week as they re-evaluate the status of the club’s academy.

Manchester United were quick to pounce, signing five talented youngsters from the newly-promoted side after a two-week trial at Carrington.

Nicky Butt’s tenure as Head of Academy has coincided with the latest generation of United graduates who are featuring prominently in the first team. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay are regular selected in Jose Mourinho’s squad, while a number of other talented kids are on the fringe of similar recognition.

So when Huddersfield decided to alter their youth system – in a move that will save them £500,000 a year – Butt was keen to invite a number of players to Carrington and assess their quality.

The Yorkshire club reduced their academy status from a category two to a category four rating, halving the number of age group teams and removing both the under-19 and under-16 teams. Huddersfield are insistent that the money saved by streamlining their operations will be reinvested in the remaining youth groups, with a specific focus on the under-18 and under-23 squads.

But it left many youngsters without a club. While Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton were interested, it was United that moved fastest, inviting 15 players for a fortnight-long trial that involved a dedicated training programme, designed to truly test their ability.

While it has not been announced which five players have been officially signed by the club, we are aware of several players that attended the trial.

Talented prospects Rocco Fragapane and Raj Mahmood are two players who are understood to have been invited to Carrington. Both players have been involved in the England under-16 set-up in the past and are particularly promising individuals. They have both suffered at the hands of Huddersfield’s cost-cutting exercise as the under-16 team has been abolished and has hit them particularly hard, depriving them of an appropriate age group in which to work and develop.

Harvey Rowe and Sam Murray are two other players who are known to be at United. They’ve both attracted interest from City, Liverpool and Everton but United are in pole position should they choose to offer them a more permanent place at the club following a successful trial period.

Nicky Butt continues to revolutionise youth football at Manchester United. After playing his part as a member of the Class of ’92, Butt had to watch on with the rest of us as United produced some good players, but rarely any great players. He hasn’t been back at the club long, but he’s certainly making an impression as Head of Academy. United have maintained a record of consecutive matches with academy graduates in the first team, a record that stretches back to October 1937, and are beginning to produce players that are of the desired calibre to feature in the first team again.

Marcus Rashford is the shining light at the moment, leading the way for other teenagers to break through into the first team, but the likes of Axel Tuanzebe, Demetri Mitchell or even Angel Gomes have set their sights on emulating Rashford in the near future. Could it soon be the turn of a former Huddersfield youngster to make his name at the Theatre of Dreams?

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