Manchester United could have a decision to make on the future of young midfielder Charlie McCann.
McCann has just one year left on his current contract and is being lined up by Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.
The Daily Record report Rangers are keen to sign McCann and would like to do so before the Scottish Premiership season kicks off this weekend.
Could it be goodbye?
McCann was very consistent for United’s under-23s last season and stepped up with five goals.
That however, was the same figure as Mark Helm, who was released and signed for Burnley. So his goal contribution alone clearly offers no guarantees, with the task of cracking the first team tougher than ever. He provided a further two assists.
The highlight of his season came with a brace against Southampton in a 2-1 win.
What McCann did always provide was a lively outlet for his teammates, offering the more flair players support, chipping in to join the attack when required.
He netted two goals in the opening month of the season, one in the EFL Trophy, and then did not score again until February when he scored three in two games.
Typically McCann was played as one of the holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation, alongside Ethan Galbraith, when he was available and not required to fill in at the back. A cast of rotating partners alongside him, including Helm, Charlie Wellens and Martin Svidersky, did make it tougher for McCann to find consistency.
In the first half of the season he was in and out of the teanm himself, but ended it as a regular, starting the last 11 under-23 league games. This was McCann’s first real year of under-23 football.
Is there a ceiling for him at United?
McCann, who turned 19 earlier this year, was not among the under-23 players called up into the first team squad for pre-season, with younger stars like Shola Shoretire and Hannibal overtaking him, and more senior players like Dylan Levitt and James Garner blocking his path, while not assured of a chance themselves.
United signed McCann from Coventry City three years ago. He is a talented prospect, but the difficulty at United is managing to stand out. Even with the first team midfield a weak point in the eyes of fans, McCann can’t get near it.
Last week McCann was in Scotland and featured in the 4-0 win over Hibernian under-23s, where he could have caught Rangers’ eye if they had a scout in attendance. He was on the scoresheet, netting the fourth goal.
The central midfielder has a choice. He can try and stay and catch the eye for United’s under-23s this season, and hope to make a breakthrough next summer if he earns a new deal.
The Republic of Ireland youth international gained some experience against first team sides in the EFL Trophy, and may be keen to test himself.
The temptation of a move to Rangers though could be tough to resist if they can offer him first team football, or a clearer path to it within a year.
At present he is not in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans, although that could change if other players in front of him are sent on loan and he has a strong season. But this would be a long shot. He could be two or three years away.
There are a lot of young players moving into United’s under-23s from the under-18s this season, and McCann may feel that it is his time to move upwards too, even if that means leaving. The difficulty at United can be trying to stand out.
One alternative option United can take is to offer McCann an extension and send him out on loan.
But if no offer is forthcoming and United feel they can make £1 million or so from his sale, or close to it, and McCann wants to leave and take up this opportunity, this could be a goodbye for him. The Daily Record‘s report expresses some confidence this deal could go ahead, so this one could move quickly.
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