Mason Greenwood’s goal for Manchester United’s first team this weekend was another reminder of his talent.

Look a little further, and United’s academy is brimming with strike talent too. Joe Hugill, 17, is already a regular for the under-23 side, while Dillon Hoogewerf and Alejandro Garnacho have had their moments too.

The player who stole the show this past weekend for the under-18s was Charlie McNeill. He scored two goals in the team’s first game of 2021 in a 4-3 victory over Blackburn.

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United  - U18 Premier League
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

This followed up his last game of 2020 very well, in which he grabbed a brace against Leeds.

McNeill now has a very impressive record of eight goals in nine games for the under-18s. He could too be pushed up to under-23 level soon even though like Hugill, he is just 17.

Living up to the hype

United won the race to sign McNeill from Manchester City in the summer, in a drawn out deal which only went through in September.

City didn’t want to let McNeill leave, but he forced through a move amid a desire to play for the club he supports. The MEN report United will only pay a maximum fee of £1.35 million.

Juventus and RB Leipzig had both been linked to McNeill along with a host of other English clubs including Everton, Leeds and Wolves, The Telegraph reported.

The paper claimed McNeill scored a staggering 600 goals for City’s academy teams during seven years, a stupendously high figure impossible to verify. Even if it sounds unbelievable, McNeill has shown early on at United that he knows where the net is.

 

He is at the right club

McNeill is at the perfect place to learn in United’s academy, with role models like Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to live up to.

Even United’s first team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a striker and he will be aware of McNeill’s ability and early progress.

But it is Edinson Cavani who has caught McNeill’s eye. The teenager copied Cavani’s archer celebration after one of his goals against Blackburn at the weekend.

This demonstrated how he idolises the first team star, and that he is studying what the Uruguayan offers on the pitch. Any time he gets on the training ground later this season with Cavani would be a massive boost for the teenager.

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United  - U18 Premier League
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

More reason to be excited

United are ahead of schedule to be top of the Premier League in 2021. A title challenge came far earlier than expected.

Solskjaer is building at United and that goes right down to academy level. United’s under-18 side is top of their league and the pieces are in place for the club to enjoy long lasting success over the next four to five years.

McNeill has a chance to be a part of this. So far his early progress suggests he might.

The club’s form this season looks sustainable long term and any bonus impact exciting academy talents can bring over the next few years will be happily received. McNeill is one of many players to be optimistic about.

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