After his shock move to Molde, have United fans really seen the last of Mats Daehli?
If you believed last week’s transfer columns and rumour mills, every potential Manchester United move involved either a departing Englishman or a soon-to-arrive Spaniard.
And yet just as David Moyes’ first signing was a little-known full-back from Uruguay, so the first player he sold was a highly-rated Norwegian tipped for the top.
When it was announced on Thursday that Mats Moller Daehli had been sold to Molde for a reported fee of £1.5million, it came as a shock to United fans in the know.
The 18-year-old Norwegian midfielder was highly regarded at Old Trafford, and just a year ago he was awarded the club’s Young Player of the Year award.
Following that presentation Daehli said, “Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a huge inspiration to me and it’s great I can call him whenever I want.”
Well now he needn’t call so much as knock on his door, because Solskjaer is Daehli’s new manager.
In recent times United have said farewell to Zeki Fryers, Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba – players who left for differing reasons and have had markedly different experiences since.
But parting with Daehli does have echoes of Pogba – at least in the regret United fans must feel following the loss of an unquestionable talent.
Having failed to make a single first-team appearance at Old Trafford – despite his progress in the under-18s and reserves – the midfielder’s decision to return home could simply be a case of believing he is ready for the final step.
That was certainly his implication when he spoke about his move.
“I’m very proud and happy. It has been a process, but this is a very good solution for me. I’ll start training tomorrow and try to show that I deserve to play.”
It is his last sentence that is the most telling; the sense of deserving to play and perhaps acknowledging the competition ahead of him at United.
And yet it isn’t all bad news for the English champions. With Daehli only signing a two-and-a-half-year deal, and with reports that United have a buy-back option, could the teenager’s move actually be a canny coaching technique from Moyes?
Could Daehli one day return to Old Trafford, with over two years of experience under his belt but still only 21, more desperate than ever to prove he deserves a place in the first team?
The length of the contract certainly suggests so – that United were willing to let him go, but not for long.
Of course they could have simply sent him on loan. So perhaps the fans really have seen the last of an exciting but soon-to-be-forgotten talent.
But his move was different to the likes of Pogba and Morrison. And while neither of those players will ever turn out for United again, the club may not have seen the last of Daehli.
How disappointed are you to see Daehli leave Old Trafford? And do you believe he could return one day?
image: © Gordon Flood