Manchester United are paying close attention to Derby County prospect Malcolm Ebiowei, report The Mail.
United are joined by three other Premier League clubs in tracking Ebiowei, with Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Newcastle also keen.
But Manchester United have two distinct advantages, one of which is Red Devils record goalscorer Wayne Rooney, who is Ebiowei’s manager, who handed him his Rams debut. He may points the teenager in United’s direction.
Ebiowei, 18, has made 16 appearances for Derby’s first team in the Championship, scoring once and providing two assists.
Rooney a big fan of Malcolm Ebiowei
Speaking after Malcolm Ebiowei’s first ever professional goal against Blackpool in early May, Rooney sung the teenager’s praises.
Rooney told BT Sport: “Ebiowei has deserved a goal, so I’m delighted for him because his performances have deserved that.
“It is a positive for us getting him off the mark. It is a shame there is only one game left, but I am sure in his career there will be a lot more.”
Derby signed Ebiowei was once in both Arsenal and Rangers’ academy teams, before settling at Derby.
Speaking to the Derbyshire Telegraph in April, Rooney said: “I thought he was excellent all game, best player on the pitch. It was one of the best performances I have seen from a young player, consistently for 90 minutes, in a long time.
“He deserved that because he has worked extremely hard. His attitude is incredible, he wants to learn and he is an exciting young player.
“First of all, his attitude is very good. He has got an enormous amount of ability, he is brave, he will take the ball, he is not afraid to take players on, to get tackled, to make mistakes. So he has got a really bright future.”
Malcolm Ebiowei’s contract is set to expire
Ebiowei will be a free agent at the end of June, sparking a scramble for his services. While Derby would like to keep him, it is likely he signs with a Premier League team.
Rooney’s relationship with Manchester United is still strong, and it is possible a deal could be struck where Manchester United sign Ebiowei and then loan him back to Derby for the season, if this is a strategy which Erik ten Hag feels is best.
The new United boss may prefer taking a closer look at the young winger first hand, having helped numerous players at Ajax make their first team debuts.
Ebiowei plays as a right winger, a position United would like to fill long-term, where Amad and Facundo Pellistri are also prospects, but neither have got close to nailing down the role. Ebiowei would be another interesting name to add into the mix.
The other advantage Manchester United may have is Steve McClaren, who has strong links with Derby County, where he worked twice as a manager, and more recently as a technical director and then ‘senior adviser’ until leaving in 2021.
McClaren was actually at Derby when they signed Ebiowei, although left four weeks later, he will have the contacts and knowledge of the teenager, to advise Ten Hag over the youngster.
Ebiowei is currently torn at international level, having represented the Netherlands under-15 side, and more recently England’s under-16s.