Manchester United are keeping an eye on James McAtee and are keen on re-signing him from Manchester City, report The Mail.
McAtee has been on fire in the Premier League 2 and UEFA Youth League this season, netting 15 goals in 14 games for City’s academy teams at under-23 and under-19 levels.
But City are struggling to offer him a pathway to regular football, leaving an open question over his future.
The Mail report United are keeping track of McAtee, who has also attracted attention from Barcelona and Ajax.
McAtee has just 18 months left on his contract, and The Athletic reported that Brighton had a £8 million bid for him turned down in the summer.
City would not want to lose McAtee to United if they can avoid it.
So United may have to wait until 2023 when the youngster’s contract expires.
City did lose Charlie McNeill to Manchester United last summer. The young striker’s decided against signing a pro contract at the Etihad and re-signed with United, a club he left at a younger age.
McNeill finished last season as last season’s top under-18s scorer with 25 goals in all competitions.
McAtee is further on in his development. He recently turned 19 and will be 20 when his contract expires.
United know exactly how good he is. McAtee scored a hat-trick and provided an assist as City’s under-23s beat United 4-2 in August.
The England under-20 international made his City debut in the Carabao Cup earlier this season, playing 18 minutes from the bench.
McAtee is an attacking midfielder who may look at the success enjoyed by Jadon Sancho abroad and choose to go that route.
The path to the first team at United may not be any simpler than at City.
Anthony Elanga is the only player to be promoted from the academy this season at United and he has only had 17 minutes.
McAtee was on United’s books
The frustrating aspect to this for United was that McAtee was on the club’s books.
He left the club to join City several years ago, with The Telegraph reporting in 2016: “They wonder privately at Manchester City if it will prove to be their ‘Ryan Giggs moment'”, in reference to the Welshman swapping City for United at just 14.
United are reported to have tracked his progress ever since, on the off chance he may become available, with The Mail reporting interest remains as strong as ever.
The onus is on City to promote him to the first team or risk losing him.
Clubs are circling and the prospect of United swooping would be the nightmare option for them.
United’s best chance is McAtee becomes headstrong on rejoining the club like McNeill was, and smooths the path to a difficult transfer by pushing it through.
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