Thursday, March 23

Man Utd transfer confirmed for midfielder labeled “best in the country”

Manchester United have signed Brighton’s Toby Collyer following an impressive trial, with the 18-year-old England youth captain earning rave reviews at Brighton

Toby Collyer has earned rave reviews at youth level for Brighton

Manchester United have beaten off strong competition from West Ham and Chelsea to land Toby Collyer – the best young defensive midfielder in the country according to those who worked with him at Brighton.

Collyer, 18, signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at Old Trafford after impressing during a trial at the Premier League giants Carrington training base last month. And if those who have worked with him at Brighton are to be believed, United have snapped up one of the brightest young talents in the country.

Former Brighton youth coach Mark Beard insists Collyer, who has captained England at U16 and U17 level, has the potential to rise to the very top. Beard, now a non-league coach at Dorking Wanderers, told Sussex Live : “Even when he was an under-15 he trained with us [the under-18s] to lot You could see he was going to be a top-class player.

“He regularly put in displays of eight out of 10 at the least. He had the best running stats, runs 13 kilometers a game, breaks things up. He is so unassuming, he gets on with his job from him. You want 11 of these type of players in the team.”

Beard added of Collyer’s potential: “With Toby, he does so much of the donkey work… he plays like two men sometimes. As defensive midfielders go, and it is quite a disciplined role, he is probably the best in the country at doing it.”

The Worthing-born England youth international received rave reviews from United’s talent spotters with their performance for Brighton in a friendly against Huddersfield. And the move for Collyer has been rubber-stamped by director of football John Murtough and Ralf Rangnick as part of a reset with transfer strategy under the interim boss.

John Murtough (football director) and Darren Fletcher (technical director) in 2021


Manchester United via Getty Images)

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Rangnick is expected to move upstairs to a consultancy role in the summer, but his track record in putting in place long-term building blocks is valued at Old Trafford. Collyer is expected to go into the U23s set up initially but hopes are high that he can be absorbed into the first team training group next season.

Rangick has spoken about improving United’s transfer strategy with a longer-term view to rivaling Manchester City and Liverpool, saying recently: “It’s about having a clear transfer strategy and signing players who fit into that system. And that’s what both clubs (City and Liverpool) have been doing in the last five or six years.

“If I look at their transfer policy and their transfer success, they haven’t had many players who people would say that maybe that wasn’t the right signing. Both clubs have been pretty successful – and this is where Manchester United have to go again.”

While Collyer will not be expected to compete for a first-team role immediately, there will be chances to impress whoever the next United manager is next season with the futures of the likes of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic uncertain.

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