Luca Ercolani made a quiet exit from Manchester United earlier this month.

The Italian defender joined Serie C side Carpi after deciding now was the time to kick on with his career. His contract was due up this summer.

Ercolani left having overcome a serious ACL injury last season, and played 24 under-23 games for the club in total, including five this season.

But there was little chance of the 21-year-old making the first team, with Teden Mengi already overtaking him. And he knew his time was up.

Speaking to Italian newspaper Il Resto Di Carlino, Ercolani admitted as such. He could not see the value of staying another half season with the under-23s.

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United: Premier League 2
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Ercolani explained: “Everything has materialised very quickly. It was January 2 and I was about to return to Manchester, when Carpi convinced me.

“At the end of the summer, after recovering fully from the knee injury, I had returned to Manchester to start the season with the under-23s, but the club made me realise that there would be no future. Staying there another six months, it would have been a waste of time.

“I played the under-23 championship and also cup matches (EFL Trophy), as well as carrying out training with the ‘first team’, but my desire was to start immediately with the ‘greats’. “

Ercolani’s season was not helped by another smaller knee injury which caused him to miss the last five games of 2020 at under-23 level.

 

He’s not wrong

The move was the right one for him. He has moved to a club where there appears to be a chance of regular playing time at first team level. There didn’t appear to be an option of that at United, where even a far much more developed and better defender like Axel Tuanzebe is struggling for playing time.

Ercolani said he is glad to be making a fresh start and the destination was not overly important, although he is happy it is with Carpi.

He added: “At this point in my career, in fact, it does not count the league, nor the name of the team. We need a serious project.

“Here at Carpi They gave me the opportunity to adapt, to play it and above all to grow, in a serene and stress-free environment. I think I made the best choice.”

Ercolani might only be able to wonder what might have been if not for his injury last season, but in all probability, it just delayed his exit by a year.

United did well by him to help with a successful rehab from a serious injury and give him the chance to play for the under-23s again, when they quite easily could have prioritised the development of younger players.

While at United he was taking his UEFA coaching badges too, and praised the club for their help.

Il Resto Di Carlino reported earlier this week United will receive 10 per cent of any future sale by Carpi for the defender.

January 2021 exits

  1. Max Haygarth to Brentford B

    Loan made permanent

  2. Luca Ercolani to Carpi

    Permanent (undisclosed)

  3. Ethan Laird to MK Dons

    Loan

  4. Timothy Fosu-Mensah to Bayer Leverkusen

    Permanent (£1.5 million)

  5. Di’Shon Bernard to Salford City

    Loan extension to end of the season

  6. Jacob Carney to Portadown

    Loan

  7. Lukasz Bejger to Slask Wroclaw

    Permanent (undisclosed)

  8. Odion Ighalo

    Loan expired

  9. Jesse Lingard to West Ham

    Loan (£1.5m fee)

  10. James Garner to Nottingham Forest

    Loan

  11. Tahith Chong to Club Brugge

    Loan

  12. Facundo Pellistri to Alaves

    Loan

  13. Teden Mengi to Derby County

    Loan

  14. Marcos Rojo to Boca Juniors

    Free

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