The talented attacking midfielder will spend the season on loan at Wigan – will he be ready for first-team football at Old Trafford upon his return?
Manchester United’s summer-long search for a creative midfielder was widely reported in the British media this summer, with the pursuit of Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera, amongst others, proving fruitless.
However, one home-grown talent could be set to save the Premier League champions the same heartache come next summer.
Nick Powell signed for United from Crewe last July for a fee of £6 million and has had a chance to experience life at a top Premier League club over the last year. He has made two Premier League appearances for the club since, scoring one excellent long-range goal against Wigan,
With exposure at England under-21 level and more to come, Powell is on track to become a solid Premier League player. The thing that he now needs is consistent first-team football to aid his development.
A season-long loan deal at Wigan fits the bill perfectly. Although the Latics are playing in the Championship rather than the Premier League, he will have seasoned players around him and a renowned manager in the form of Owen Coyle. The DW Stadium outfit are sure to be in the running for promotion back to the top flight, and as such Powell will be given the chance to experience a competitive environment and the search for glory.
Powell has a significant role to play at Wigan as he will replace Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy, who signed for Everton on transfer deadline day. The former Hamilton Accies playmaker has developed into a solid Premier League player under the Latics’ tutelage – it is now Powell’s turn.
Tom Cleverley spent a loan spell at Wigan earlier in his career, and returned to Old Trafford for the 2011-12 season as a better player as a consequence. The now England international slotted straight into the United side under Sir Alex Ferguson and is now an important player for the Red Devils in their midfield.
David Moyes will hope that a similar result will be ascertained from Powell’s time at Wigan. The 19-year-old has all the skills that United’s midfield currently need – an impressive range of passing, energy and a solid work-rate and an eye for goal. All that he is lacking is experience and time on the pitch.
Whether Powell will be at a level to be the creative player that United need following the retirement of Paul Scholes remains to be seen. It is likely that United will still look for a finished product of a playmaker in January or next summer, but Powell can add strength in depth to the side’s squad.
With Greg Dyke’s comments over the lack of players available to Roy Hodgson for the national team, Powell’s progression will be of keen interest to the Three Lions boss also.
image: © Paolo Camera