Manchester United striker Charlie McNeill has started every Under 21 game this season on the bench as he is looking to engineer a loan move to League One, according to The Manchester Evening News.
The emerging talent is reportedly hoping to leave the club on a temporary basis to continue his development following a brief loan spell at Newport County in League Two last season. The player has been left on the bench for the Premier League giant’s academy side as he works to secure a move to the third tier.
The 19-year-old started his youth career at Manchester United before moving to crosstown rivals Manchester City for £12,000 when he was just 11 years old. United then re-signed McNeill in 2020 for an initial fee of £700,000, by this point, he had scored over 600 goals at youth level. A year later, McNeill received his first of four England U16 caps where he has scored a solitary goal.
Upon his return to United, McNeill took the U18 Premier League by storm, scoring 24 goals and chipping in with six assists in 21 appearances in the 2020/21 season. More recently, McNeill scored three goals in five appearances for Manchester United’s Under 21’s in their EFL trophy campaign at the start of last season. These goals were against the likes of Barrow, Carlisle and Fleetwood and his ability to play well against these established football league sides could have been a reason behind League Two side Newport County’s decision to sign him on loan at the end of the January window. McNeill made 20 appearances and scored two goals whilst also getting an assist.
McNeill clearly has calibre at youth level and officials at United are said to have been impressed with the way that he conducted himself whilst at Newport. But, with his contract reportedly expiring in the summer of 2024, the youngster has very little time to prove that he can score goals at senior level.
It is said that he would prefer a move to League One, but he is also willing to drop down if necessary and I think this is important. McNeill needs to decide what he will value more, going back to the same league (and potentially the same team) he played in last year which will mean there will be less settling in and adapting to do; or, moving to a higher league in League One where the quality of football will be better and there will be more of a technical emphasis (which may suit a young player), but there could also be a steep learning curve like he faced last season.
United re-signed McNeill in the same summer that they signed a youngster from Atletico Madrid who goes by the name of Alejandro Garnacho. If McNeill wants to be playing alongside the young Argentine in the first team, it is pivotal that he finds a club that will have full confidence in him to lead the line and that he finds them soon. The quicker he can build his confidence the better, as the goals should naturally come with it.