Manchester United have announced young defender Bjorn Hardley has left the club to sign with FC Utrecht.

The club confirmed his departure, not disclosing the fee. The youngster follows Zidane Iqbal to the Dutch club.

Bjorn Hardley has signed a four-year deal with Utrecht. He will initially go into their academy side Jong FC Utrecht, rather than the first team, the Dutch side announced.

Manchester United signed Hardley from Dutch club NAC Breda back in summer 2019.

READ: Confirmed Manchester United transfers in, out, loans, releases, youth for 2023/24

Manchester United U21 v Leicester City U21: Premier League 2
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Bjorn Hardley signs for FC Utrecht

Utrecht technical manager Tim Gilissen spoke to the club website about the move and highlighted Hardley’s qualities.

He explained: “He is a real winner, someone who does everything to get the best out of himself and his teammates. He now consciously chooses this step in his career, to make playing minutes in the Kitchen Champion Division. 

“In this competition he wants to develop himself and we will do everything we can to help him with that. We are happy to be able to connect him to the club.”

Exit for Hardley makes sense

Bjorn Hardley was on the substitutes bench for Manchester United in 2021 against Young Boys in the Champions League when Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal made their debuts.

That was as close as he came, although he did train with the first team under Erik ten Hag late last season.

An exit for him now makes sense, considering he has not yet made the leap, and was not involved in any of the 2023 pre-season matches, nor spotted training at Carrington.

Hardley is a centre-back capable of playing at full-back, and made 85 academy appearances for the Red Devils.

The time is now right for the 20-year-old to move on for a fresh challenge, at a club where he stands a better chance of breaking into their first team.

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