Manchester United announced the good news this week that Ethan Laird has signed a contract extension.
At just 18-years-old, Laird made his first team debut for United in the Europa League earlier this season.
The young right-back is potentially a huge part of United’s future and this deal which will run until 2023 is crucially important.
United have got this one right
In recent seasons, United have not got it right with young academy talent.
This has left Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes entering the final four months of their contract unsigned and currently on course to leave this summer.
Laird’s early involvement in the first team may have helped, although he still has a few obstacles in his way.
He is rated as the club’s brightest young full-back and after shaking off injury problems which hampered the early part of his 2019, he returned and made an immediate impact for the under-23s.
Laird has good quality defensively, but it is as an attacking force where he has really made his presence felt, regularly providing assists at academy level.
He would be ideal for United’s wing-back position, although there is clearly heavy competition from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot.
In Laird’s favour is his ability to play left-back too. His rise and promise was one of the reasons United could afford to let Ashley Young go.
Loan move viable next season
The contract extension provides United with freedom which did not exist for United with Chong and Gomes this season.
Loan moves were not really viable with the pair’s contracts expiring.
Laird has a shot of impressing in pre-season, but he may also consider that a loan move is in his best interests so he can play regular football.
Brandon Williams’ breakthrough this season shows you never quite know how injuries and suspensions will create opportunities.
So long as United include a recall option, Laird could have the best of both worlds.
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