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Ethan Laird: Manchester United’s exciting prospect

Ethan Laird is a name that most Manchester United fans are familiar with, as the exciting young defender has been on the cusp of breaking into the first team squad for what feels like a couple of seasons. 

The right-back seemingly has all the attributes of a top modern defender; pace, defensive ability and attacking quality, however, it has not been plain sailing for the 20-year-old, as injuries blocked his path to the first team. But has the youngster shown enough out on loan to get United fans excited?

Last season, Laird was loaned out for the first time to MK Dons in League One, this loan seemed perfect as Laird was guaranteed minutes and could also learn a lot about the game in a tough League. 

Across all competitions, Laird made 25 appearances, contributing four assists for his new club. He had the trust of his manager as, for the 25 games he was available for in the league, Laird started 23.

He was only sent on loan in the January, as reported by the club, so the fact that Laird slotted straight into the team halfway through the season and was instantly trusted shows the quality he brought to his new club.  

After this successful spell, there were some wondering if Laird would be in the first team squad for the upcoming 2021/22 season with the future of Diogo Dalot under consideration after his loan at AC Milan.

However, United chose to keep hold of Dalot for the 2021/22 season, meaning Laird would need to prove himself out on loan yet again, this time in the Championship. 

United sent Laird out on loan to Swansea City, as announced by the club in August of 2021. The choice of club seemingly being due to the fact that Russell Martin had been newly appointed as Swansea’s boss, who was the manager at MK Dons the season previous, as reported by Manchester United. This was a huge positive for Laird as he knew that he would be trusted by the manager at his new club. 

Once again it seems Laird has settled in quickly to life in the Championship, it should be mentioned that being a young defender in the Championship is notoriously difficult due to the battles that occur all over the pitch. Laird has made 16 appearances across all competitions for the Swans, contributing four assists during that time, only a quarter into the season. 

It was recently reported by the BBC that Laird views his stint at Swansea as a stepping stone on his way to a first team spot at United, he also went on to say that‘I know they (Manchester United’s first team coaching staff) are watching me, which is nice’. This shows the ambition within the youngster to strive and work hard for his place in Manchester United’s first team, he is doing everything right at the moment. 

There is certainly a way into United’s first team for the young right-back as currently the performances of Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been criticised, along with the rest of United’s defence. It also appears back up right back Diogo Dalot has fallen completely out of favour, with the Portuguese defender only accumulating 321 minutes in all competitions for United this season

If Laird carries on in this vein of form, there is every chance that he could be in and around the first team come next season, as United’s defence look to be missing a young, hungry, and talented defender as this current moment. 

Written by Jennifer McCord

James Garner linked to Bournemouth for season-long loan spell

Newly relegated from the Premier League, it is reported by The Sun that Bournemouth will look to sign Manchester United midfielder James Garner on loan during the 2020/21 season. It has been reported that the 19-year-old would be able to leave the Old Trafford club on loan this summer and it was suggested that Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City and Cardiff City were interested in the player. It is suggested that the South Coast club want to make a quick return to the Premier League.

As much as playing in the Premier League would be good for the player, playing in the Championship would see him learn a lot more in the game after playing so well in the U23s during the season. It would be unlikely that Garner would be afforded much first team football at United next season with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay all ahead of him. It would be good to see him get a chance though.

Many players in the past have been loaned out to gain first team status at lower league clubs. Some have not worked, others have. I am hoping that Garner will be one of the latter as I have high hopes for him. I am sure the player will be relishing the chance to impress away from the Old Trafford club, proving himself under another manager and showing just what he is capable of in the game, which at youth level shows his potential and he will be wanting to achieve that at first team level.

If Garner did sign for the Cherries, it would be a club not only licking their wounds from their relegation from the Premier League last weekend but also a club looking for a new direction after Eddie Howe left the club this weekend. It could be a good experience for the midfielder who will be seeking to put himself in with a chance of playing first team football with United in a season or two. This experience would really;y test the player’s mettle.

If Bournemouth do not end up getting a deal done to sign the 19-year-old on a season-long loan spell, Swansea City and Sheffield Wednesday have both been credited with an interest in the player. However, United will pick the club most likely to play him regularly as with loan spells, they will only work if the player is given amble playing time. It is possible that other clubs may be interested in the midfielder as there is a lot of talent in his locker, which could be unlocked during the course of the season.

Cardiff City were said to be interested in the player, however, they quickly poured cold water on the reported interest, although that was before there were committed to the Championship for another season, losing the Championship playoff against Fulham with the final to be contested between Fulham and Brentford on Tuesday evening. Garner should be excited for his future. He should be given ample playing time to show what he is capable of, which should excite football fans.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United join chase for Welsh defender after Ryan Giggs recommended him – reports

Manchester United have reportedly joined the ‘transfer hunt’ for Swansea City defender Joe Rodon after former United winger and Class of 92 graduate, Ryan Giggs recommended the £20 million valued player. United are likely to face competition from Manchester City with Pep Guardiola being a long-time admirer of the 22-year-old.

Giggs gave Rodon his Wales debut last year and has since been capped four times. It is suggested that the former United winger urged his former club to sign the player, who he highly rates as a central defender after his scintillating for for the Swans this season. Giggs previously recommended Daniel James to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the rest is history.

It is currently reported that United would like to sign another central defender this summer to partner Harry Maguire, who arrived at the club in an £80 million deal from Leicester City last summer. It is expected that Phil Jones could leave the club this summer, along with Chris Smalling, who has spent the season on loan at Roma.

Rodon would still represent Solskjaer’s youth policy, especially home grown youth, which is the way United have been built over the years – with some exceptions. The 22-year-old made a total of 21 appearances in the Championship this season, before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football. He also assisted one goal, not scoring any.

It is reported that United’s cross-city rivals Manchester City have been keeping close tabs on the six-foot-four Welshman for some time as Guardiola likens him to John Stones, who has not been in very good form since his move to the Etihad a few years ago. It is fair to say that City need to concentrate on their defence after problems this season.

This could be bad news for United as City seem to be a team with a few changes away from becoming their best again, with United seemingly still a project seeking perfection. However, as challenges come, the one United offered would be more difficult and could bring out the best of the Welsh defender, if he was able to sideline Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.

It is also reported that Bournemouth, Everton, Leicester City, Chelsea and Arsenal had all sent scouts to watch Rodon, who broke into Swansea’s first team around 18-months ago. The Welshman is described as a ball-playing central defender and had earned comparisons with John Stones. Hopefully that does not resign him to the scrapheap.

At this moment in time, United would need to get rid of the likes of Jones, Smalling and Marcos Rojo before bringing inn a new central defender. There is also the future of Axel Tuanzebe, who has played inn both right-back and central defensive positions in his career, both at United and when he has been loaned out.

Perhaps former teammate, Daniel James could be an influence in the Welshman signing for United, along with Giggs, who clearly sees United as the best option for him, presumably not being biased at all. It would be a good deal for United and Rodon would be given time to settle at the club being that Lindelof, Bailly, Tuanzebe and Maguire would be ahead of him.

copyright: JW