Manchester United won't lose sleep over departure of two promising youngsters

United's academy building
-Credit: (Image: Manchester United)


The core purpose of Manchester United's academy is to produce players for the first team.

The likes of Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Marcus Rashford have emerged from the academy in the last 10 years and other youngsters have broken into the squad.

There have been 250 players to make a senior debut from the academy, which is a remarkable record, but the reality is the majority of hopefuls pursue careers elsewhere.

It's a challenge for any young player to be on the fringe of the senior squad, nevermind earn a regular starting role, and United's academy has been responsible for the early development of hundreds of players who enjoyed fulfilling careers throughout the English pyramid.

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From the outside, it can be seen as a failure for a youngster to leave United's academy and join a club in a lower division, but that's not the view of staff at Carrington or players' families.

There are many reasons why young players leave United and context is important ahead of the departure of Omari Forson and the likely exit of Shola Shoretire this summer.

Forson has been in protracted talks over a new contract, but new proposals from United have been rejected and he's set to leave on a free transfer at the end of this month.

The Manchester Evening News understands United will continue to offer Forson competitive contracts in the hope he will sign a new deal. However, the club have conceded he's expected to leave, which isn't a surprise after months of stalled contract negotiations over a fresh deal.

United wanted to keep Forson and their contract proposals reflected that. He will leave with well wishes but the club won't lose sleep over his departure this summer.

There is a promising young player in Forson and it will be fascinating to see what he can achieve when he leaves, but he looked raw and inexperienced when he was given a shock start against Fulham in the Premier League on February 24 - his full debut for the club.

Just a day before the Fulham game, Rasmus Hojlund was ruled out with a muscle injury and Forson was selected to start on the right wing instead of £86million signing Antony.

Forson is on his way out. -Credit:2024 Getty Images
Forson is on his way out. -Credit:2024 Getty Images

Moments after the first whistle, the 19-year-old charged down the Fulham defence and lunged into a reckless challenge, which he was lucky to escape a yellow card for. The adrenaline of the occasion had rushed to Forson's head and Erik ten Hag responded by gesturing to calm down.

Ten Hag named Forson in the senior squad for the pre-season tour of the United States last summer and gave him first-team opportunities throughout 2024.

Forson made his debut against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup in January, made a cameo against Newport County and was given substitute appearances against Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premier League, which felt like an effort from Ten Hag to get him to sign a new deal. He also assisted Kobbie Mainoo for his matchwinner in the 4-3 win against Wolves at Molineux.

Those efforts have been in vain and the only regret United might have over his departure is not obtaining a transfer fee for him in January, although he was on track to sign a new contract in the winter and they will receive compensation when he joins a new side this summer.

United will also be entitled to compensation if Shoretire leaves upon the expiry of his contract this month, which seems increasingly likely. Last month, sources indicated United remained hopeful an agreement could be reached with Shoretire but an exit is probable.

Shoretire was given his first-team debut by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Newcastle in February 2021 before playing in the Europa League just a few days later, an appearance which meant he became the youngest player to appear for the club in European competition.

Shoretire's progress has stalled in the last 18 months and now aged 20, it's within the player's interest to pursue regular starts at a competitive senior level.

Forson and Shoretire have both fallen below the level needed to regularly start for the first team but should enjoy fulfilling careers and will always be United academy alumni.