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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

Manchester United sign ‘unique footballing talent’ with player joining academy

Manchester United look set to complete the signing of Norwegian teenager Isak Hansen-Aarøen. The player is due to turn 16 on Saturday (22 August 2020). The teenager became the youngest ever player for Tromsø when he made his debut at 15 years 319 days earlier this season and featured seven times in the clubs first team, coming from the bench and assisting in his final appearance for the club in a 5-0 victory over Sandnes Ulf. The teenager has also scored three goals in three appearances for Norway U16s.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had Scandanavia scouted during his time as United manager, seeking to find the best young talent in the region and the club reportedly feel that they have signed a great talent in Hansen-Aarøen. Tromsø wished the teenager well in a post on their Instagram account Friday, confirming that the player has now left the club. The post , according to The Mirror, stated:

“A wonderful person. A unique football talent. Who just loves to play football now.

“From Fløya to TIL as a junior, into the academy as a 10-year-old, learns at the TIL school and debut for the first team as a 15-year-old. Assist in his last match for Tromsø IL.

“Thank you so much for the last ten years and good luck in Manchester United and on in your career. We hope you have a great time, see you soon.”

United have seemingly been scouring the glob to bring in the best talent to the clubs academy, making waves last summer, especially with the arrival of Hannibal Mejbri. This summer, the arrival of Hansen-Aarøen will be seen as a good acquisition with the player being highly-rated at Tromsø. United have already confirmed the signings of Joe Hugill, Logan Pye and Radek Vitek. The club has also been linked with Manchester City academy player Charlie McNeill, Barcelona fullback Marc Jurado and Real Madrid left-back Alvaro Fernandez Carreras.

As United look set to complete their summer spending at academy level, it is yet to be seen what moves United make when it comes to the first team, which needs some work this summer, in more than one position. The academy seems to be in the right hands though. Neil Ryan, the manager of the U18 team seems to be getting the player in that he feels will add something to his team and more importantly, add something to the club as they work to impress the manager at various age groups.

As Hansen-Aarøen has already had a sniff of first team action, he will be seeking to get a taste at United but he will probably have to wait a year or two for that, unless he plays in a pre-season friendly for the first tea, this summer, which might be doubtful. The player will be seeking to impress his coaches and earn a place in the U18 squad next season. It is possible that he could play at a younger level, but based on reports of the player’s ability, the U18 squad is the level he will probably start at, being tested at U19 level in the UEFA Youth League and possibly at U23 level.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United swooping in on Manchester City academy star Charlie McNeill

Manchester United are reportedly confident in signing Manchester City academy star Charlie McNeill this summer. The 16-year-old is reported to have scored 600 goals during his career so far, left United in 2014, a club he supports and one that he played for at junior levels. It is stated by the Daily Mail that City would like to sell the player for a seven figure sum also including a number of additional performance-related clauses. He could well be a talent, if given the opportunity to shine.

Both clubs have hit a stalemate in negotiations though. The player will turn 17 on the 9 September 2020 and if he crosses that date and rejects a professional contract at City, United would be able to sign him with compensation being paid instead of a transfer fee, so perhaps that is why there is a stalemate at this present time. It was reported earlier this summer that McNeill had agreed to a move to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, reported by City Xtra on the Sports Illustrated website.

It is stated that the 16-year-old would like to leave the club as he was not getting many opportunities at U18 level, making nine appearances and scoring one goal and one assist for the club this season, before the coronavirus pandemic suspended then cancelled youth football. The player has already stated that he intends to leave City this summer, saying his goodbyes on social media, thanking the club for his past six years there. United seem to be making a big rebuild at U18 level this summer. On Instagram, McNeill said:

“A massive thank you to Manchester City for everything over the past six years.

“It’s been such a pleasure to play with some amazing players and I’ve made some amazing friends too.

“Thanks to all the staff and players for helping me develop as a player and also as a person. I wish everyone the very best.”

United have already confirmed three new signings in the clubs academy this season with Joe Hugill, Logan Pye and Radek Vitek announced as part of the U18 squad for the upcoming 2020/21 season. In addition to these three, Neil Ryan’s side look set to complete the signing of three other players who will be subject to international clearance. This will be the main delay with all three arriving at the club and being allowed to play. Last summer, United signed Hannibal Mejbri and he was cleared to play in mid-September.

Barcelona fullback Marc Jurado, 16 is likely to be the first of three other players to sign for United this summer. It was reported by The Sun that Jurado was ‘blown away’ by United’s project and will be happy to continue his development at the club, leaving La Masia. It would seem that United are intent on signing the best youth prospects in Europe this summer, therefore creating something for the future. Alvaro Fernandez Carreras, 17, will be leaving Real Madrid for United, according to The Sun. The player idolised Marcelo, so could well become a player for the future at the Old Trafford club.

Isak Hansen-Aaroen, 15, is the third player and The Sun reported that United completed the signing of the player last year, when he was 14. He will be leaving Tromso and became their youngest ever player at 15 years and 319 days when he made his debut earlier this month. It will be an exciting period for the player and for the future of United’s academy. It looks like United mean business at this level and if they can confirm all three of these players and add McNeill to the squad, there will definitely be some talent on show from the start of the new season.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United confirm new arrivals in academy; exciting future

Manchester United have confirmed some new additions into the academy ahead of the 2020/21 season. Back in May, the Old Trafford club were linked with 16-year-old Sunderland striker Joe Hugill with reports by the Daily Mail then suggesting a £250,000 deal between the clubs. Although the fee has not been confirmed, the teenager is now a United player, along with teammate Logan Pye, also 16. United have also brought in 16-year-old Czech goalkeeper Radek Vitek from Sigma Olomouc.

During the 2019/20 season, Hugill played for Sunderland at U18 and U23 level, with Transfermarkt stating he made seven appearances in total, scoring three goals. Pye, also playing for Sunderland, made nine appearances at U18 level, scoring no goals but making one assist. Vitek played for Sigma Olomouc U19, making 10 appearances, conceding 17 goals and keeping two clean sheets. Obviously, the trio will mainly be playing at U18 level and be added to the current squad at that level.

Current United player Shola Shoretire, 16 will be added to the U18 squad permanently after performing well during the current season, which was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Shoretire made a total of 20 appearances for the club this season, scoring three goals and three assists. He is also the youngest player to play in the UEFA Youth League, appearing in the competition last season at the age of 14. United could have a good prospect in the teenager.

Omari Forson, 15 will also remain at United after being linked to Arsenal, which will be important for United considering the talent of the player. During the 2019/20 season, he made 14 appearances, coming off the bench 11 times, scoring one goal and one assist. He only arrived at the club from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2019, so it was good that United ended up keeping the player instead of his returning to London a year later. He could well be one of the shining lights in the academy.

United have also confirmed that defensive duo Rhys Bennett, 16 and Oliver Kilner, 16 will take up places in the U18 squad ahead of the new season with Polish goalkeeper Daniel Polakowski, 16 also rising up to the squad which is coached by Neil Ryan. Bennett has been at United since U9 level with Polakowski being at the club since he was nine. Kilner is a local boy, coming from Stockport. It will certainly be an interesting season ahead with some U18 players likely to make the move to the U23 squad.

This will allow the players to progress through the ranks, forming a continual conveyor belt at the club, with some players eventually making it into the first team and other players earning careers for themselves away from United. This is what happens in youth football – not every player makes it at United but they can learn a lot from being part of the coaching and education scheme of the club. United have always been known for their academy and that looks likely to continue.

Written by John Walker

U18s endure mixed start to the 2019/20 season, which can only get better…

Manchester United’s U19s started their season with players moving up into the U23s and others spending their first full season in this age group. There will be changes every year at this level with those who are nearing the age of 18 looking to take their chances in the U23s and continue their development, either at United or elsewhere.

U18 coach, Neil Ryan replaced Kieran McKenna at this level in the summer of 2018 after the latter became a coach under Jose Mourinho in the first team. Ryan’s first season in charge of the U18s saw his Sid finish fourth in the U18 Premier League – eight points adrift of eventual winners, Derby County.

The season started on Saturday 10 August 2019 with United beating Sunderland 3-0 at the Aon Training Complex in Carrington. In that match, Charlie McCann scored from the penalty spot, Anthony Elanga doubles United’s lead with Charlie Wellens scoring the third goal in the victory. United were seeking to continue that run.

The second match of the season was played a week later on Saturday 17 August away to Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was United’s first defeat of the season at this level, losing 2-0. In the third match of the season, United were once again at home with Blackburn Rovers heading to the Aon Training Complex.

United won this match 3-1 with Anthony Elanga scoring a brace and Dillon Hoogewerf scoring his first goal for his new club. A late consolation from Blackburn meant United were not able to keep a clean sheet in the match. Liverpool away was up next for United, which like every previous season would be a fierce match because of the rivalry.

United lost 4-3 against Liverpool in a match which saw United equalise minutes after Liverpool scored with Ayodeji Sotona levelling the first time, and Wellens scoring the second and third equalising goal. The match was lost in the final minute with an own goal, which was a shame for United. United will face Derby County away on Saturday (14/9).

With four matches played and six points on the board, United will be seeking to a return to winning ways against the U18 Premier League champions on Saturday, which might show that this age group already have the mentality to succeed at this level. It will be a tough match and probably a tough season with United aiming to do better than last.

The top scorer of the 2019/20 season so far is jointly held between Elanga and Wellens with both players scoring three goals each. Then with one goal each, Hoogewerf, McCann, and Sotona sit with their efforts. Ryan will be happy with the goals which have been scored, however, he will be seeking for more as United take on better opposition.

In terms of assists, both Elanga and Mark Helm have two each with Reece Devine, who was sent off against Liverpool, also having one. Ryan will need to look at the depth of his squad in order to overcome Derby this weekend with Devine missing from the squad due to suspension. United will be up for the fixture though, against the reigning champions.

Nine players in the squad have played in all of the four matches played so far this season, with just five of those playing each minute across the four matches. Ondrej Mastny, Ben Hockenhull, Reece Devine, Charlie McCann, and Mark Helm have played each minute of the four matches with Lukasz Bejger, Charlie Wellens, Connor Stanley, and Dillon Hoogewerf playing in each of the four matches played.

I am sure that Anthony Elanga, who has already featured twice for the U23s this season and Teden Mengi, who has also played twice at that level, will have Neil Wood, Quinton Fortune and Nicky Butt watching them if they continue to play U18 football this season. With Elanga scoring three times already this season, he’s clearly a player with the talent and ability to find a goal, or three.

It will be good to see these players grow with the team this season, one player in particular with pressure already being applied to his development will be Harvey Neville, the son of Phil Neville and nephew of Gary Neville. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing more of Hoogewerf, Elanga, and after their performances so far this season, Wellens and Helm. This will be an exciting season for the U18s.

copyright: JW