Bjorn Hardley was a low-key addition to Manchester United’s academy in 2019.
United snapped him up from NAC Breda’s academy he impressed the club’s scouts.
His agent Orlando Engelaar told DeStem at the time: “A total of seven scouts have seen Björn at work, including Manchester United’s chief scout. At United there is a lot of confidence in him.”
After a year of bedding in, during which he played at both left-back and centre-back for the under-18s, Hardley is beginning to show real signs of why United signed him.
Hardley has been a mainstay at centre-back for the under-18s, playing 90 minutes in all eight games to start the season.
United have won seven of eight games and sit top of the league, with Hardley playing a big role and captaining the side once.
In his last two academy matches he even has two assists.
The latest of which came when he roamed forward to join the attack in the under-18s win over Newcastle at the weekend, with the score at 1-1.
Hardley stepped up to join the midfield and won a header on the edge of the box, which landed in the path of fellow Dutchman Dillon Hoogewerf, who struck the ball first time for the second goal of his hat-trick.
Hardley’s performance drew praise from under-18s boss Neil Ryan after the game.
Ryan told MUTV: “I thought Bjorn Hardley was outstanding. His movement at the back. He’s a real leader.”
What next for Hardley?
The 17-year-old turns 18 in December and a step up to the under-23s is only a matter of time.
United will want Hardley to continue to lead the under-18s to success this season, but at the same time, there will be a desire to test him too.
His differing centre-back partners Rhys Bennett and Willy Kambwala can replace him if he is called up.
Will Fish and Teden Mengi are ahead of him in the under-23 queue, but Hardley is beginning to make a case for himself.
United appear blessed with talent in the academy right now and Hardley is another rising star to have high hopes for.
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