Manchester United have reportedly agreed on a £250,000 fee with Sunderland for 16-year-old striker Joe Hugill. The academy star is described as an ‘old fashioned striker’ and is seen as a player that could give United a different dimension, at least when playing for the U18s or the U23s next season as youth football this season has been cancelled.
United have apparently been seeking to get a deal done for the 16-year-old since March with Hugill having a decent goal scoring record for Sunderland’s U18s which prompted them to promote the player to U23 level earlier this season. Confirmation on this deal will have to wait until the coronavirus pandemic shows more signs of ending.
During lockdown, only essential travel is allowed and that does not include conducting a medical for new signings, so for this, United and Sunderland will have to wait until the lockdown is over and things such as this are allowed to happen. However, with suggestions that the lockdown could start to be relaxed soon, it might not be too far away.
It is suggested that Tottenham Hotspur were interested in Hugill earlier this year after scout Ian Broomfield went to watch him play. However, it would seem that United pressed on and have seemingly got to a stage whereby the deal could be completed as soon as possible, which is good news for United and the academy, and Hugill, of course.
The transfer will fit in well with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s approach at the club where he wants to sign young and talented players, preferably from the United Kingdom. United have not really switched from the approach to youth over the years and have had an academy player in the squad for every match since October 1937, over 4,000 matches now.
At U18 level this season, United have scored 49 goals playing in the U18 Premier League (North), the U18 Premier League Cup and the FA Youth Cup. If Hugill is added to this squad next season, he could help improve that for United, seeing them score many more goals with the attacking players able to demonstrate more quality.
At U23 level, United have scored 50 goals this season with two more being added due to own goals from opposition teams, giving United 52 goals in total. These have been scored in the Premier League 2 (Division 2), and the Leasing.com EFL Trophy. Hugill could add something at this level too, considering Sunderland promoted him this season.
Hugill is understood to have rejected terms on a new contract with Sunderland, which has enforced the situation for the club to sell the player. It is expected that he will sign his first professional contract with United when he turns 17, which is not until the 19 October 2020. By then, he could be representing United at either U18 or U23 level.
United have needed to find an out and out striker at U23 level for some time now, especially with the likes of Mason Greenwood missing out on playing regularly at that level given that he was promoted to the first team relatively early and seems to be excelling there now, scoring 12 goals and four assists in 36 first team appearances so far this season.