Would Manchester United youngster Nick Powell benefit from a loan move to Wigan next season, or will he still be at Old Trafford fighting for a first-team place?
While Robin van Persie stole the headlines in terms of United’s summer transfer dealings, Powell’s arrival from Crewe was a little more understated.
A deal for the 18-year-old had been done before Powell struck the decisive blow in the League Two play-off final to help Crewe back into League One as Sir Alex Ferguson wasted no time in beating Manchester United's rivals to secure the signing of Crewe’s latest big talent.
Rumours circulating at the time suggested that Powell would be loaned immediately back to Crewe for the following season or to Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United to gain more experience, but these stories were quickly denied as Sir Alex insisted he wanted Powell around to experience life at United and learn from those around him.
Having caused a stir by turning up to Carrington in his trusty Vauxhall Corsa, Powell has been on the fringes of the first-team at United, notching up six appearances to date and scoring a thunderous strike on his Premier League debut against Wigan. He has also made two starts in the Champions League, against Galatasaray and CFR Cluj.
Those figures don’t really tell the full story as Powell has suffered with a series of niggling injuries that have hampered his availability throughout the campaign. Now fit again, he will be looking to increase his playing time as United look set to wrap up the Premier League title with games to spare.
Next season looks set to be an interesting one for Powell. With Paul Scholes looking set for retirement, Ryan Giggs into his 23rd year and more doubts over the future of Anderson, there may be opportunities to stake his claim for a regular midfield berth, especially with Ferguson’s seeming reluctance to strengthen the midfield in recent seasons.
The other option would be for the youngster to spend the season out on loan to gain match experience. A Premier League club would be favourable and the Daily Star have linked Powell with a move to nearby Wigan - a step Tom Cleverley took before establishing himself in the first-team setup at Old Trafford.
Powell is an attack-minded midfielder with a strong physical presence and has even played as a lone striker for the Under-21s of late, but he will need to adapt to become a true central midfielder in the Scholes mould if he is to become a first-team regular at Old Trafford with Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa ahead of him for the more advanced role behind the striker.
Still only 18, Powell has plenty of time on his side to develop his abilities in order to become the top player he is clearly capable of - and with a World Cup just over a year away, anything could happen for this bright young thing.
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