In the climate of modern football, it is a dangerous habit to hype players as the next big thing, with most teenage starlets being compared to a world-class counterpart for simply playing in a similar position.
Manchester United are rich with youthful prospects set to dominate their first team in years to come. The likes of Hannibal Mejbri and Alejandro Garnacho have already made an impact on the first team. Furthermore, exciting prospects like Kobbie Mainoo and Toby Collyer are ready behind them in the production line. But it’s the new kid on the block, 18-year-old McNeill, who is earning major plaudits. But who is the England U18 international? And does he have a chance at breaking into the Red Devil’s first team?
Who is Charlie McNeill?
McNeill has forged his reputation at youth level as a lethal goalscorer, netting over 600 across all levels by this time last year, but it is his overall play that really catches the eye.
A £750,000 signing from crosstown rivals Manchester City, who will be kicking themselves for losing another top talent after Jadon Sancho, McNeill has turned heads at Old Trafford. In 2018, he inked a six-year deal with Adidas that could net him over £1 million. And in his first season with United, he crashed in an astonishing 24 goals in 21 appearances in the Under-18 Premier League, settling in better than anyone could have hoped.
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Charlie McNeill potential
Astonishingly, McNeill has bounced between the Manchester clubs a few times. He was originally part of United’s academy and played alongside Mason Greenwood.
Having made his debut for the U23s in February, it is surely only a matter of time before he makes a place in that side his own, and if he maintains scoring at his current rate, it will not be long before he appears on Erik Ten Hag’s radar.
In an era when professional footballers are media-trained and often speak like robots, it’s great to see a player with a bit of character and personality – and he often shows that in his post-match interviews.
Charlie McNeill stats
|Man Utd U18||Goals||Assists|
McNeill finished his debut season with 25 goals in 25 appearances and has carried the impressive form into the recent campaign.
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Skills and style of play
McNeill has forged his reputation at youth level as a lethal goalscorer, netting over 600 across all levels by this time last year, but it was his overall play that really caught the eye, first earning a corner out of nothing at the start of the half with a high-press which Rangnick would have endorsed himself.
McNeill has every right to have confidence given his goalscoring record, and though he has been known to play slightly deeper at times, he is very much an old-fashioned number nine who has displayed a variety of finishes with both feet during his first season back at United.
Charlie McNeill’s Manchester United future
RB Leipzig were heavily linked with signing the teenager last summer, but it was United who won the race, paying an initial £750,000 to bring McNeill back to the club in September, with the move made official two days after his 17th birthday.
That fee could rise to as much as £1.5m if certain incentives are met, and given some of them are linked with him making the leap to the first team, sources at the club believe they have got themselves a potential bargain.
The pathway is clearly there to United’s first-team, and as such McNeill will feel he made the right choice by swapping back to the red side of Manchester. United are reaping the benefits of that decision, with a superstar striker of the future now back in their grasp and thriving. United are historically renowned as the bad guys of English football and a blossoming star like McNeill will help keep up their image of pantomime villains.