Manchester United signed Nishan Burkart this summer from FC Zürich in Switzerland. The player was recently given his international clearance and will now be eligible to play for the club, within the Academy. Burkart who represents Switzerland U16’s on an international level was a player wanted by many top-flight clubs around Europe this summer, Tahith Chong too. United have been subjected to much speculation suggesting that the Academy had a lot of work to do in order to get back to the days of old, which are not all that far back in the past. The Academy was ridiculed for the results it faced last season, losing twelve matches in the league on the bounce. This season, the U18’s did not start all that well; beaten 4-0 by Derby County and 2-1 by Liverpool, but the 5-1 victories over Everton and Middlesbrough seem to have changed their start to the season.
Burkart has only played for United once, making his debut in the 5-1 thriller over Everton, scoring in that match and announcing himself on the stage at his new club. The U18’s seem to be playing well at this moment in time with Indy Boonen, Angel Gomes, DJ Buffonge and Callum Whelan all performing thus far with Gomes scoring a hat-trick against Everton just over a week ago. Boonen scored and assisted this weekend and seems to have United playing very quick attacking football, something that Burkart will adapt to very quickly. Nicky Butt, the head of the Academy, has made some massive changes this season, bringing in talented young players, a new U18 coach, Kieran McKenna and other changes behind the scenes. The Class of 92 graduate, coming through in the most successful young team at the club for many years know what is expected of the players at the club. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News about new signings Tahith Chong and Nishan Burkart, Butt said:
“Bringing in Chong and Burkart was really the first time in a while that we have actually gone into Europe and bought players. Pretty much every club in this country was after those two boys. Tahith has everything you expect of a young player to become top-level and so does Nishan. Both Nishan’s parents are ex-Olympians so he has that in his blood. Tahith is 6ft one already, broad shoulders, a little waist. The pair of them are well-built, perfect sizes, athletes. We have a good starting point with these two boys. They have good ability and really good self-belief, which you have to have at this club. We are starting them at a higher level (than normal 16-year-old newcomers) to get them to the highest level rather than starting from a lower rung. We have to bed them into the club, into life around Manchester and knowing the club and building their bodies up so the step to U23’s won’t be massive for them. We then need to make sure the step from the U23’s to the first team isn’t massive as well. We are really positive about them two. But there are a load more we are excited about. It is a really positive group.”
Burkart was wanted by Chelsea, Arsenal, and Southampton in the Premier League this summer with the Swiss 16-year-old being compared to Theo Walcott, for his style of play at least. Many will wonder whether he is going to be a decent player in the future after being compared to a guy who has struggled to play for a club like Arsenal, so comparing Burkhart to him may be seen as a letdown. Burkart is a decent player, a player who has lots of versatility. As Butt stated that Burkart and Chong were both big lads, built like athletes, which is a good sign. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News about the clubs that United fought off to bring the Swiss youth international in this summer, Butt said:
“I showed their families round last year and told the about the club and the reaction was pretty much very positive straight away. They didn’t want to go anywhere else. It was nice and refreshing. Clubs can say anything they like to kids, they can sell it, we can sell it, but ultimately the facts are we give lads a pathway to a career here or elsewhere. Nobody can deny that. Nobody can say that is not true and we are spinning a yarn there and that doesn’t happen. The stats are there. No other club in the country, or Europe, provides so many professional footballers to lower leagues. Last season I think 58 of our ex-academy players were playing in the championship and lower down. Not only that we also get our players through to the first-team like Marcus Rashford.”
On Sunday, Burkart played the full match for Switzerland at U17 level as they beat Croatia 2-0. On the 31st August, he played 79 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Russia. Burkart seems to be playing lots of football throughout the international break, although between the two matches mentioned above, he was unused in another. Burkart will most likely feature for United’s U18 this coming weekend with them facing West Bromwich Albion at the AON Training Complex, a match which would normally be shown live on MUTV, but with United facing Manchester City at Old Trafford in the Premier League it will not be shown live, instead the full match will be shown from 5pm that evening, so despite it not being live, we should see how United play with most players now back from the international break and with United near enough having a full U18 side to choose from.
The 5-1 victory over Middlesbrough at the weekend saw United field a trialist; Idris Kanu a West Ham United player. Kanu scored twice in the second half of the match, looking good on the ball and on the attack. Whether United sign him to play alongside Burkart remains to be seen, but the youth level at the club would be immense if that happened. Burkart, when he settles in properly will be a great talent and could become a start at the club he signed for this summer. At only 16 years old and being the athlete he already is, he has a way to go before representing the U23’s, or even the first-team, but keeping his head down, impressing his coaches and Butt will be at the top of his agenda which makes Nishan Burkhart One to Watch for the future. Just imagine, over the next few years he could be a name that we will all be hearing about like Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, Jesse Lingard, Will and Michael Keane. At Manchester United, the world could be the young Swiss international’s oyster.