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Ones to Watch: Dillon Hoogewerf – young, hungry and destined to score the goals for United and a dream to reach the big time

Dillon Hoogewerf arrived at Manchester United’s academy in the summer of 2019, leaving the academy of Ajax as a 16-year-old. United had signed many Dutch players in the past with Tahith Chong, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Millen Baars some of those in the past eight years or so. Hoogewerf was considered as one of the star performers from the Ajax academy, a club that United have a good relationship with, most recently signing Donny van de Beek from the club in the summer of 2020. Hoogewerf was born on the 27 February 2003 and will turn 18 next month.

The Dutch forward would prefer to play as the centre-forward but can also feature on the left and right wing, meaning he shows a lot of promise in any attacking role. He has played for his country, the Netherlands at U15, U16 and U17 level, making a total of 19 appearances, scoring ten goals. During his first season at United, Hoogewerf made a total of 19 appearances, scoring seven goals and one assist, playing at U18 and U23 level, featuring for the club in the FA Youth Cup, also on the bench in the Papa John’s Trophy. Hoogewerf made his debut against Sunderland at U18 level, scoring his first goal against Blackburn Rovers at that level.

At U23 level, Hoogewerf made his debut against Aston Villa, a 4-1 defeat, scoring his first goal against Reading, a 4-1 victory. The young Dutchman made a total of 16 appearances at U18 level, playing in the U18 Premier League 13 times and the FA Youth Cup three times, scoring six goals, three in the U18 Premier League and three in the FA Youth Cup, assisting one goal, in the U18 Premier League. At U23 level, Hoogewerf made three appearances in the Premier League 2, scoring one goal. He is a talented player and will be seeking to get the best from his career at United, being tested between the U18 and U23 levels of the game.

United already had a plan devised for Hoogewerf before his transfer from Ajax, which suggests that the club had done their homework on the player and had focussed on all his attributes and devised the plan. United would like to get the player into the first team as soon a possible, which is always the intention with the club. However, it would be on the specific player to make that grade and the now 17-year-old has a good chance of doing that in the future. Speaking to Ajax Show Time and reported by the Manchester Evening News in March 2020, Hoogewerf spoke about signing for United and their intentions, saying:

“I want to [make my] debut as quickly as possible. That is why I went there. Manchester United came up with a good plan and the intention to make me debut at an early age.

“In England it is more conditional and more physical.

“Defending is not my strength. If I can fight there and do what I did in the Netherlands, then I think I can handle any competition.

“Especially the matches are really tough. It’s different than in the Netherlands.

“If you play against a club from the second league there, you can still expect a lot. If you play against NAC Breda here, it is likely that you will win.”

During the current season, Hoogewerf has focussed on U18 football, not featuring for the club in the Papa John’s Trophy, their second season in the competition, and seldom featuring at U23 level. The 17-year-old has made eight appearances at U18 level, playing a total of 452 minutes of football, scoring four goals and three assists. At U23 level, playing in the Premier League 2, the Dutchman has made just one appearance, playing 19 minutes against Southampton in a 3-1 victory for the club. He has not scored or assisted any goals at the higher level.

Hoogewerf scored his first hat-trick for United in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle United in the U18 Premier League on the 28 November 2020 at the clubs Aon training complex in Carrington. He scored his first goal of the new season against Stoke City, scoring the only goal of the game the weekend before. He has also assisted three goals for the U18 side this season, assisting his first in the opening match of the season, a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers, then assisting twice in the 5-1 victory over Burnley a week later. United have done well at U18 level this season and currently top the league by three points.

United do not feature in the U18 Premier League until the 16 January when they face Liverpool, the team they have a game in hand over, and an important three point lead at the top of the table. A victory there will see United sit six points clear over their North West rivals, which will be a fitting start to the New Year. United will play in the FA Youth Cup three days earlier facing Salford City. If they win that match, they will face either Liverpool or Sutton United in the fourth round. Hoogewerf will be wanting to win a trophy this season, if he can which would be a fitting start to the rest of his career, which will be at U23 level and beyond.

Hoogewerf will rival with Joe Hugill, who signed for the club from Sunderland in the summer with the forward playing more matches at U23 level than at U18 level, playing 12 times, scoring four goals and one assist at the higher level, playing four times and scoring six goals and one assist at the U18 level. Hoogewerf will have the time to show his ability at both levels, moving up to the U23 level at some point, with him turning 18 in February. This will give him the chance to see if he has what it takes to reach the first team, which is a level that he talent could propel him to at some point in his career.

Written by John Walker

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