As Manchester United’s U18’s season draws to a close two of their more prominent members this season in the shape of Nicholas Ioannou and Ben Barber have already moved on to new clubs as they look to start their professional careers.
The higher rated of the two, centre half Nicholas Ioannou has signed with Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus the home of his father Demetris who represented Cyprus 48 times. Ioannou came into the United U18’s while still an U16 player and played a prominent role in the teams run through to the FA Youth Cup semi-final, which they eventually lost to Chelsea. Following a bad injury at the Milk Cup his first season at U18 level was severely disrupted by injury and a failure to kick on this season lead to the clubs decision to allow him to move on.
Having represented Cyprus U19’s Ioannou is highly rated in his homeland and has been watched by the senior Cyprus manager this season. Although there was interest in him from a lot of clubs in England including Everton and Charlton Athletic, Ioannou has decided to sign a three-year deal with Apoel and could even appear in next years UEFA Champions League as Apoel currently sit at the top of the table.
Ben Barber is the second player released from the U18 team and has already found himself a new club as he began training with Blackburn Rovers last week. A skillful left back, Barber has probably been one of the U18 teams most consistent payers this season as he bounced back from missing a large part of last season with injury to become one of the top appearance makers this season.
Although they have been released by United the speed at which both players have been picked up by their new clubs shows how highly rated they are within the game and if they can continue to develop and avoid the type of injuries which have set them back so far they both have the ability to go on and have long careers in the game.
By Jack Broder
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