United's New Boy: Nick Powell

Very few teenagers garner as much attention as Nick Powell, but the 18-year-old attacking midfielder has long-since been ahead of his time.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Phelan made a personal check on the 18-year-old in May, watching him in action against Aldershot Town, and took the decision to move quickly and secure the prodigious youngster’s signature.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder, who scored in Crewe’s League Two Play-Off final victory against Cheltenham last month, signed a four-year contract after passing a medical at Manchester United Carrington training ground on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old joins United after a fantastic season with Crewe

Powell’s move comes a week after United completed the £17 million purchase of Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.

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United have beaten off competition from Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea to sign the England Under-18 international, who had been with Crewe from the age five-years-old.

On his way up through the Crewe Alexandra ranks, he debuted in under-18s football at just 15 and was still only 16 when he made his competitive senior debut at Cheltenham Town in August 2010.

While continuing to impress with the club’s Academy and Reserve teams, Nick was sporadically involved at senior level during the 2010/11 season, making one start and 18 substitute appearances.

His breakthrough campaign came in 2011/12, as he played an integral part in the Railwaymen’s promotion to League One, bagging a scorching opener in May’s Playoff Final victory over Cheltenham Town and scoring 16 times over 45 appearances.

Powell collecting his December young player of the month accolade

Capped by England at under-16s, under-17s and under-18s level, reports increasingly linked Powell with a further hike up the divisions, with a host of Premier League teams credited with an interest in recent months.

I don’t consider this as the best move for Powell. Time after time United sign promising youth players, they make their way through the lower levels of the club, then move just before reaching their peak. The likes of Giuseppe Rossi and Ravel Morrison are just a few example of this happening.

Therefore, a loan move is probably in the player’s best interest, that way he’ll still be contracted to the club whilst having the benefit of gaining first team experience. Although this unlikely to happen prior to the January transfer window, with Ferguson and his coaching team undoubtedly keen to work with the player closely. United supporters will likely see Powell in action during the club’s summer tour across three continents.

There is, of course, the question of whether the youngster can make a break through into the first team next season. The sizeable fee, which could rise to around £6 million according to today’s reports, suggests that Powell may be given every opportunity to break through sooner than some of his 18-year-old contemporaries at United. Whatever happens, I look forward to seeing him at Old Trafford at some point in the future.

Facts and Figures

Name: Nicholas Edward Powell
Position: Midfielder/striker
Date of Birth: 23 March 1994
Height: 6? 0? (183cm)
Weight: 10st 5lbs (65kg)

Career Data

2010/11 – 17 appearances, 0 goals
2011/12 – 45 appearances, 16 goals

England U16 – 7, 1
England U17 – 17, 5
England U18 – 1, 0

Football League Young Player of the Month – December 2011
League Two Apprentice of the Year – 2012
Crewe Alexandra Young Player of the Year – 2012
Crewe Alexandra Player of the Year – 2012
Crewe Alexandra Goal of the Season – 2012

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