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Manchester United midfielder Charlie Wellens signs first professional contract – reports

Manchester United midfielder Charlie Wellens has signed his first professional contract at the club. The player turned 17 back in December and was eligible to sign a professional contract at the club, which did not happen right away and was presumably held up by the coronavirus pandemic which suspended world football mid-March.

The teenager has signed the two-year contract after a season in the U18s not even a year after signing a scholarship contract last summer. Wellens has done well in the U18s this season, playing 21 times, scoring five goals and a further three assists helping the club achieve a sixth-placed finish in the U18 Premier League after the season was cancelled last month.

Wellens is the son of Swindon Town manager, Ritche Wellens who also came through United’s academy, making his debut in 1999. The player’s father announced the news on his Twitter account, stating that his son ‘had signed for the biggest club in the world’, seemingly feeling pretty proud of his son. His tweet said:

“Twenty-three years ago I signed my first professional contract at the biggest club in the world.

“To say I’m proud to see Charlie sign his is an understatement. Well done mate it’s only the start but you deserve it.”

Wellens was training with United’s first team ahead of the trip to Kazakhstan to face Astana back in September 2019 and made his U23 debut this season, coming off the bench one, which would have been an eye opener for him, giving him a taste of the level he will need to be at to play more often. First team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his eye on the youth.

At the time the player was training with the first team, Nick Cox who is the head of the academy, taking over from Nicky Butt last summer after he changes roles at the club, stated that young players being involved with the first team was a regular every day occurrence at the club, which will show the players how they need to develop, learning off the first team players at the same time. He said:

“I think sometimes we get carried away, by the way. Kids training with our first-team is a day-to-day occurrence, it’s just part of the process here, it’s just what happens. At other clubs it might be the exception to the rule. Here it’s the norm.

“It’s easy to get carried away, it doesn’t mean anything. It means that a kid’s got a different learning opportunity, a different environment to train in and an experience that will hopefully help them in their journey, but we don’t get carried away.

“It’s just a thing that happens. I quite often see it pop up all over social media and it shouldn’t be something that people get too carried away with.”

Solskjaer will be keeping tabs on Wellens during the 2020/21 season, although it is not yet known when it will take place and if there will be a delay considering the your players had their seasons cancelled last month with safety the main concern. Wellens is a talented midfielder with an eye for both scoring and creating a goal.

This is the type of player that Solskjaer will be hoping makes it to the first team regularly in the future, although the player should enjoy playing U18 football whilst he can, having a taste of U23 football from time to time, which may earn him a chance in the first team in a domestic cup competition, if United are drawn against lower league opposition.

I am sure that Wellens will have seen the likes of Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood earn their stripes in the first team and force themselves into Solskjaer’s plans during the past season based on their performances, attitude and desire to achieve things in this game. If Wellens has that same mindset, he could achieve a lot at this club.

Arnau Puigmal could become a free-kick king for Manchester United

Arnau Puigmal finalised his move to Manchester United move in the summer from Spanish club Espanyol, the clearance on the moving coming last month after his paperwork was sorted out by the regulating bodies. Puigmal is a player the Academy has brought in to help create some new stars of the future, which has been prevalent since Nicky Butt took over as the head more than a year ago. It was not that long ago when United’s U18’s lost twelve consecutive matches in the U18 Premier League, which saw the end of Paul McGuinness and the start of something new.

Puigmal, one of this summer’s arrivals made his debut against Newcastle United the weekend before last, scoring a beautiful free-kick, which has resulted in the player working hard to develop his free-kick technique. U18 coach Kieran McKenna, brought in last season to replace McGuinness, has done wonders with his team, seeing them as title challengers at a stage last season, which was a big improvement from the previous season. This season, with some players making the step up to the U23’s, the U18’s have new faces which will force a settling in period, which is not going all that badly.

Puigmal has played within Spain’s youth teams, which will be something that would help him become the player he wants to be. McKenna, speaking to the official Manchester United website, talked about the 16-year-old developing his free-kick, which is something he does at international level too, taking set-pieces from time to time. The U18 coach said:

“Free-kicks are something he likes practising. He takes them for his national team quite a bit and likes to practise shooting after, before and during training! He likes to hit the back of the net, especially from that sort of range. It’s something he’ll keep working on to try to become a real specialist on set-pieces from all areas.”

Puigmal’s debut against Newcastle was a great start for the youth player, who will no doubt use it to boost his confidence and press on throughout the season. The young Spaniard helped to earn his U18 side a draw Finch Farm against Everton at the weekend, their second draw in a fortnight. Five matches have been played in the league this season, United winning one, drawing twice and losing twice. In the U18 Premier League Cup, United beat Arsenal 4-3, after coming from behind, Puigmal not playing past in any matches other than the last two – both draws. McKenna continued by saying:

“We are really pleased with him. I think it was a big challenge to come in to a game like that as Newcastle are a physical, strong team who were experienced with a lot of second years.

“He is still a young guy, he’s just turned 16 this year, and adapted really well to the physical side of the game. He showed a lot of good things technically and obviously popped up with a great goal as well. He could not have got off to a much better start.

“I’m sure he would have liked us to have seen out the game and made that goal the winner but it wasn’t to be. However, he’s off and running now and I’m sure he’s looking forward to getting stuck into more games.”

Puigmal has high hopes in the world of football, being spotted by United’s scouting staff in a display against the club in the Med Cup tournament. At 16, the Spaniard has a lot of settling in to do, and during a pre-season training camp in Austria, he got to know his new teammates, helping to create a bond within the team, which will be needed throughout the season if this side is to become anything like the teams of the years gone by. Manchester United supporters are right to be excited, there is certainly some talent in the Academy, which is partly to do with Butt, since he became the Head of the Academy, seeing the weaknesses and where the club needed to move forward.

The young Spaniard has been compared to Andreas Pereira, a player seeing the season on loan in La Liga again, this time at Valencia. Puigmal will be a player to feast your eyes on throughout the campaign, as if his development of his free-kicks goes to plan, there could be something special at bay. McKenna also spoke about the player practising his shooting skills after training, which is good to see.

Some young players seem to think you can get to where you want to be easily, but like George Best and David Beckham, also many players before, in between and after, putting in the extra effort will pay off. It did for both Beckham and Best, who practised in their spare time, Best kicking a tennis ball at door handles, Beckham perfecting his famous free-kick ability. The future is bright for both Manchester United and Arnau Puigmal.

copyright: JW