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Meet Man Utd’s “ready-made athlete” fast-tracked to first-team by Solskjaer

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could hand Shola Shoretire his first-team debut in the Europa League against Real Sociedad tonight (Thursday).

The 17-year-old winger has been called into the travelling squad along with recent signing Amad Diallo with Solskjaer hinting they could feature off the bench.

“Yeah, they’re in the travelling squad. Not just for experience, they’re there to make an impact if they have to,” Solskjaer told the club’s website.

“The two boys have done well in training and they are talents that we want to give experience to. First of all they’re travelling and then let’s see if they come on the pitch.”

Shoretire has generated plenty of buzz around United in recent years and recently penned a new long-term contract after interest from top European clubs.

Here’s everything you need to know about the newest name in the United squad.

Shola Shoretire has travelled to Turin with the Man Utd squad and could make his first-team debut
Shola Shoretire has travelled to Turin with the Man Utd squad and could make his first-team debut

Early move

Shola Shoretire initially played at the Newcastle United academy before his family moved to Manchester when he was a youngster.

Former Magpies manager Lee Clark told Tribal Football that it was a move that could not be prevented and one which has ultimately benefited United.

Clark wrote: “At first when I heard about him a couple of years ago. I was initially frustrated that Newcastle lost out on one of their own, but it was a scenario that couldn’t be helped with his parents being offered jobs down in the Manchester area which they had to take.

“Unfortunately there’s nothing Newcastle could have done about that.”

Athletic prowess

One of Shoretire’s former coaches at Newcastle, David Ballantyne, says it was always clear the youngster was a “ready-made athlete” with huge potential.

“There’s always one or two you just think ‘Wow, yeah – he’s got a real chance of being a player’ and Shola was one of them,” Ballantyne told Chronicle Live.

“I can count on one hand how many I’ve said that about. To me, Shola was like a young Micah Richards at seven and eight, he was athletic, so quick and just so strong.

Shoretire's athletic prowess and physical attribures were always apparent
Shoretire’s athletic prowess and physical attribures were always apparent

“He was like a ready-made athlete. He was phenomenal and just so quick. That stood out – he just had that natural speed. But no one could get him off the ball as well, he had that strength, and he was light, quickness of feet, light on his feet.”

As well as his athletic prowess, Shoretire’s mentality caught the eye.

“He was extremely hard-working,” Ballantyne added, “and really tough on himself.

“If he couldn’t get something right straight away or hit every pass – he would get really frustrated with himself because he was a perfectionist.”

History maker

Shoretire made history in December 2018 when he was just 14.

He became the youngster player ever to appear in the UEFA Youth League when he came off the bench for the final 15 minutes as United Under 19s came from behind to edge a 2-1 win against Valencia in Spain.

Shoretire was just 14 when he made his UEFA Youth League debut and made history
Shoretire was just 14 when he made his UEFA Youth League debut and made history

It was clear at that stage the teenager was highly rated and he has since gone from strength to strength culminating on being on the verge of his senior European debut less than three years on.

Testing himself

Ever since being earmarked as a future star of the United academy, Shoretire has been tested.

Speaking in December, Under-23s head coach Neil Wood discussed his pathway and the fact he has “always been stretched” by the club.

“Shola has always played up a year through his whole academy career,” Wood said. “I can’t remember him ever playing his own age group. He has always been stretched.

Shoretire has always been "stretched" and is now training with the Man Utd first-team regularly
Shoretire has always been “stretched” and is now training with the Man Utd first-team regularly

“He is very mature for his age, the way he plays, he does a lot of work, takes a lot of positions up, and he has played a lot of roles.

“He’s played [number] nine, he’s played left, he’s played on the right, he’s played 10 and whatever you ask him to do – on and off the ball – he is going to do it. You can trust him to do that job.

“He is very young and doing excellent for the age of him. I am not expecting him to be man of the match or [a] main figure of the team, because he is so young, but he’s not going on that pitch and drowning or anything. He has probably been one of our most consistent outstanding performers throughout the season.”

Committing his future and snubbing top clubs

On the verge of his first-team breakthrough, Shoretire penned his first professional contract with Manchester United earlier this month.

He posted on Instagram: “It’s a dream come true to sign my first professional contract for my boyhood club! Such a proud day for me and my family.

“Thank you to everyone at the club and to my family who have helped me get to this moment. Hard work continues!”

But the deal was reportedly not straight forward.

According to the Daily Mail, Shoretire penned his lucrative deal despite strong interested from Europe’s elite including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

It is claimed he spoke to the likes of Michael Owen, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood about his future and was convinced to stay at Old Trafford in a bid to become the latest academy graduate to make the grade.

He is now closing in after his promotion to the first-team squad to take on Real Sociedad and fans could get their first glimpse of a future star.



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