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Derby County manager Frank Lampard seeking to buy Demetri Mitchell this summer

Manchester United academy graduate Demetri Mitchell is a target for Derby County manager Frank Lampard this summer, according to reports. The Sun has claimed that the former Chelsea player is seeking a permanent deal worth £500,000 for the defender. Mitchell already has many followers amongst United’s fan base who would like to see him develop into a player capable of occupying either the left-back or the left-wing, or a role in between at the club in the future.

Mitchell, 21, had a loan spell with Hearts in the Scottish Premiership last season where he was highly regarded by his manager, teammates and most importantly the supporters of the club. Sadly his season ended prematurely due to injury. Mitchell will be seeking to find out what his future holds for him at United, seeing Ashley Young emerge as the first-choice left-back at the club last season, alongside the speculation earlier this summer which linked Luke Shaw with a move away from the Old Trafford club.

The 21-year-old made his first team debut at United on the final day of the Premier League 2016/17 season against Crystal Palace with United winning the match 2-0. Many youth players made their debuts that day, including Josh Harrop, who left promptly that summer for Preston North End and Angel Gomes, who became the youngest debutant since Duncan Edwards at the club. Mitchell thought his inclusion would bring more opportunities in the first team, but that is not what happened.

Before going on loan to Hearts in January 2018, Mitchell revealed what Jose Mourinho had said to him ahead of the Palace game where he made his debut. Mitchell had only been playing as a fullback for around two years, being converted from a winger/wing-back with Nicky Butt commending the defensive side of his game. Reported by the Manchester Evening News at the time, Mitchell had said:

“It was special making my debut for the club against Crystal Palace. The manager just brought me in and told me that, although every game is important, there was no pressure on me. It was the end of the season and I really enjoyed it. Obviously I hoped it would lead to more opportunities at United but that hasn’t happened, so that’s why I was so keen to go out on loan.”

Confirming that Butt, now the head of United’s academy but at the time was coaching the U23s, had switched him to a more defensive role at the club, Mitchell, speaking to the Scotsman, said:

“Hearts got in touch with United because they have been looking for a left-back and I seemed to fit the bill for them. I’ve been told Hearts have been needing a left-back for a while so hopefully, I can help out with that. My aim is to play as much as I can and help the team finish the season strongly.

“I have only turned into a left-back over the last two seasons. I was a winger or a wing-back before that. But Nicky Butt, the Under-23 manager at Manchester United [at the time], thought I did the defensive side of the game well. He moved me back there and I have been doing a lot of work to learn the position.

“I think I have been getting better at it. It feels more natural to me now and I’m adapting well. I can play as a wing-back if it’s five at the back, or at full-back if it’s a flat four.”

The Sun suggests that Mitchell has one year remaining on his United contract and the club now need to work out whether they will sell the player this summer, or in effect watch him leave as a free agent in a years time. It would be a shame that a player as talented as Mitchell could leave the club but it would not be the first time that a youth player had not found the form or the chances to occupy a first team place at the club.

United will fly to Los Angeles today [Sunday 15 July 2018] ahead of their pre-season tour which will see them face Club America, San Jose Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool, and Real Madrid in the United States of America, before flying to Munich, Germany to face Bayern Munich five days before the new Premier League season starts. With many first team players missing due to this summers FIFA World Cup, which ends today with France playing Croatia, Mitchell may, in fact, travel with the squad to offer depth in the early matches.

Mitchell would do well playing for Derby County if the report is true that Lampard is seeking to sign him. The Championship club finished in the play-off positions last season, losing to Fulham, the eventual winners. Derby will be seeking to earn promotion back to the Premier League under Lampard this season, whether achieving an automatic promotion or winning the play-off. Bringing in a player as capable as Mitchell would be good for them, despite it seemingly being a loss for United.

Who is ready to make the step-up to the Manchester United first team?

Despite Manchester United’s reserves finishing in the relegation zone this season, there are plenty of individuals from that side who warrant a place on this summer’s pre-season tour of the United States of America, with a look to bedding them into the squad regularly next year.

Such a responsibility has been talked about with some of the more renowned youth players like Axel Tuanzebe, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Angel Gomes, and increasingly Tahith Chong. However, there are some other players who haven’t received as much attention but are equally deserving of their opportunity.

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The first player who may be slightly more recognised than the others is Demetri Mitchell. Mitchell was one of a number of academy players who made their debut at the end of Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge in the game against Crystal Palace as United ran out 2-0 winners. Mitchell has spent most of his career hitherto as a winger, occasionally playing up front too. However, he showed his versatility for the Under-23s, using his pace and tactical awareness to convert to left-back.

His performances there saw him deployed there in the Palace game and he played there regularly for Hearts when he was loaned out in January 2018. Mitchell quickly gained the support of the fans, putting in strong performances before injury halted his progress. His time in Scotland was brief but he managed to win Goal of the Year and Reserves Player of the Year at United despite only having half a season in Manchester.

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Another player who will be looking to push onto the first-team is Callum Gribbin. Another local youth player, Gribbin was very nearly poached by Liverpool when he was 16. However, he was nurtured a bit more than he had been previously with the Under-18s, and his step up to the Reserves earned him some training sessions with the first team. He has a wand of a left foot and drifts pasts players with ease, whether it be cutting in from the right flank or playing in the hole behind the striker.

His public notoriety increased a lot in recent weeks as videos of him scoring from the halfway line circulated on social media. Still only 19, Gribbin will be one of the key players for the Premier League 2 side next season and might get a chance to showcase his talent on a bigger stage if he seizes the opportunity for Ricky Sbragia’s side.

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A player who has been talked about a lot alongside Gribbin is centre-half Roshaun Williams. Williams was quickly fast-tracked through the youth teams, making his reserves debut aged only 16 after one strong season with the Under-18s. His rapid progression was greatly helped by his pace and physique, and this was recognised by Louis van Gaal, who included him in the match-day squad against West Ham in March 2016 when Williams was only 17.

At the time, it appeared the youngster was going to be a major part of United’s plans very quickly. Though William’s development has been marred somewhat by injuries, a consistent run of games at the end of this season has hopefully helped the 19-year old stake his claim for a place on tour.

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The final candidate is arguably the least well-known but has the best chance of being on the plane, Ethan Hamilton. The 19-year old Scotsman was later to join United’s youth ranks, being spotted and signed whilst playing for Hutchison Vale, the side Darren Fletcher started with. Although he was later joining the system, he took little time to adapt as he captained the Under-18s from central midfield, popping up with assists and a string of well-taken goals.

His consistency earned him a call-up to the reserves, where he was a regular starter during the 2017/18 campaign. His maturity obviously caught the eye of Mourinho, who somewhat unexpectedly called up the Scot to the first-team squad for the FA Cup tie against Huddersfield. Though he was an unused substitute, Hamilton will be hoping to use this as a platform and kick on, potentially emulating the success of countryman, Scott McTominay.

Alongside the likes of those outlined at the beginning of the article, these four will be looking to this summer as a stepping stone for their development at the club. It is vital Mourinho gives them the chance.

Written by Rob Potter

Demetri Mitchell could be given a chance this pre-season, he could become a star…

Manchester United Academy graduate Demetri Mitchell has risen through the ranks at the Old Trafford club at a great speed. Whilst playing at the U18 level, the player had problems with injury but persevered and moved up to the U21 league, which has now become the U23 league. At the end of last season, after a string of good performances by Mitchell throughout the U23 season, even after being converted from a left-winger to a left-back, the 20-year-old was rewarded with his Manchester United and Premier League debut, starting against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford – the final match of the season. Manager Jose Mourinho had to rest some of his key players for the match after a tough season, keeping them fresh for the UEFA Europa League final days later.

Joel Pereira made his full debut, previously staring for United against Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup, Scott McTominay too, after making his debut against Arsenal earlier in the season. Josh Harrop, now a Preston North End player after leaving the club as a free agent in the summer, also made his full debut, his first and last appearance for the first team, scoring a sublime goal 15 minutes into the match, which ended a 2-0 victory for United with Paul Pogba scoring the other goal, setting up Harrop’s chance from deep within United’s half. Mitchell played well in his Premier League debut, showing Mourinho the options he has to his calling heading into the new season.

The left-back position is one where there are some problems for United; the fitness and injury record of Luke Shaw is the main problem and the fact there is no true left-back competition with Marcos Rojo playing better in a central defensive role (but he is injured), Daley Blind being the same as his Argentinian teammate and the likes of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Joe Riley perhaps not ready to play for the first team; Riley has been injured and Borthwick-Jackson had the season from hell on loan with Wolverhampton Wanderers, not playing a match since November last year and ending the season back with the U23’s. Mitchell could be that contender at left-back Shaw needs to bring the best out of his game – competition does some good at the end of the day.

Mitchell was rewarded with a place in Mourinho’s pre-season squad which travelled to Los Angeles last Sunday for a week’s training camp before taking on LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona before returning to Europe to face Valerenga and Sampdoria in friendlies before contesting the UEFA Super Cup with UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid just before the new Premier League season starts on the 13th August with a home clash with West Ham United. Mitchell will be eyeing a place in the starting XI of some, if not all of these matches, hoping to impress the manager in a bid to possibly start the season as the club’s left-back with Shaw not expected to start the season due to injury.

In order to impress the manager, Mitchell just needs keep his head and take his chances if and when it comes. Mourinho is described as a manager lacking confidence in youth players, but since he signed as the United manager, that does not seem to be the case, even despite the myth being proven as just that with players such as Alvaro Morata given the chance under the Portuguese manager whilst he was at Real Madrid, with others given the chance at other clubs he has managed. Perhaps at Chelsea, the talented youth he did not utilise were just not good enough for the first team. Mourinho has shown the faith in Axel Tuanzebe be repeatedly picking him for matches, despite injury ravaging his squad at the time with the youngster doing well.

Mitchell could use the experience of Tuanzebe to earn himself a prolonged chance in the first team at United, but he will need to continue to work hard and impress the manager, doing what is expected of him throughout the chances he is granted by defending well, helping his teammates both in defence and attacking, also running up the left flank and helping his team attack and cause problems for the opposition. The best chance Mitchell could get will be against LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, which could be seen as confidence boosters for the player, not that I underestimate the abilities of these MLS teams, but Mitchell could fortify his chances against the better teams if he performs, which would only add to his experience.

Demetri Mitchell impresses Denis Irwin; can he impress Jose Mourinho?

Manchester United legend Denis Irwin thinks that Demetri Mitchell can become a first team player at the Old Trafford club after his debut at the end of last season followed by his inclusion on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States of America. Mitchell can learn the vital lessons about the hard work and dedication from his teammates whilst on pre-season which could give him a kick-start to take on Luke Shaw ahead of the new season with the left-back role one which needs some work this coming season.

Mitchell started against Crystal Palace in the final Premier League match of last season, the match which former United player Josh Harrop announced himself on the professional stage with a sublime 15th-minute goal, which was set up by Paul Pogba with the Frenchman doubling United’s lead four minutes later. Mitchell was one of the full debutants in that match which also saw the arrival of 16-year-old Angel Gomes, albeit a few minutes from the end of the match. Mitchell impressed in the match in the left-back role suggesting that he could take on Shaw this coming season.

United manager Jose Mourinho included Mitchell in his pre-season tour squad, presumably wanting to check him out during all or some of the five matches to be played stateside. Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo, two of the players who have played in the left-back role over the last season or so are both injured but have travelled to the USA, so with the club short of left-backs, Mitchell may feature a lot of the time. Matteo Darmian also played at left-back last season, which could be something we see before the club embarks on their return to Europe for two more matches ahead of the UEFA Super Cup.

Irwin, United’s left-back during the start of the Premier League era made more than 500 appearances for United and was impressed with how Mitchell has adapted after being converted from a left-winger to a left-back. The Irishman has been a keen follower of the player, keeping an eye on his during training sessions at UCLA in Los Angeles earlier this week. Irwin, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“I have watched him playing for the Under-23s and was impressed. He obviously started his career as a left winger and you can see that in him, very much like you can with Antonio Valencia.

“He played a fantastic game against Crystal Palace in the last game of the season and this is a great experience for him, to come out on tour for the first time and to learn from the more senior players about what is required to make it at this level, to learn about the hard work and dedication that is necessary at a club like Manchester United.

“I think it will do his confidence the world of good and I am interested to see how he progresses. Left-back is a spot where so many players played last season – Darmian, Blind, Rojo, Shaw and even Young – so there could an opening there for him. Let’s see how he gets on.”

Mitchell seems to have everything to make him a star; pace, ability on and off the ball, the ability to defend and score some stunning goals. As a left-back who can attack, the 20-year-old may find himself given the nod by Mourinho this pre-season and if he impresses, he could be the challenger to Luke Shaw next season, which should bring the best out of both players and give United some rotational options throughout the season also giving a talented youth player a chance to make an even bigger name for himself.

copyright: JW