Nick Powell arrived at Old Trafford from current League 1 side Crewe Alexandra in 2012 for a fee of around £6 million and with a big reputation.
He ended the 2011-12 campaign by scoring an unbelievable volley in the League 2 Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium and he was touted as being the next Paul Scholes.
That said, he has failed to kick on at Manchester United and many would consider him to be as good now as he was three years ago.
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However, the recent injury crisis in the senior team has meant Powell has been brought back into the first-team picture. This article asks whether the somewhat wayward youngster deserves one final chance to impress at the Red Devils.
Out of the wilderness
With the likes of Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin and Wayne Rooney recovering from injury, Powell was plucked out of the wilderness by Louis van Gaal and selected in United’s squad for their European clash against Wolfsburg.
The 21-year-old - now sporting the no. 22 jersey - came on for Juan Mata in the 69th minute in what ultimately was United’s final Champions League game of the season.
His Manchester United career so far
Powell burst onto the scene under Sir Alex Ferguson in September 2012 with a stunning debut goal at Old Trafford in a Premier League victory over Wigan Athletic.
He enjoyed a successful loan spell at the Latics the following season, scoring seven goals across all competitions - including three Europa League goals and an overhead kick against Bolton Wanderers.
However, Powell’s career took a turn for the worse when Leicester City decided to terminate his loan deal with them in December 2014 because his lack of commitment to training.
Due to continuous hamstring problems that kept him sidelined for nearly nine months, Powell’s first involvement for United in 2015 only came last month in an Under-21 game against Norwich City.
Prior to the recent matches against Wolfsburg and Bournemouth, Powell’s only appearance under Van Gaal came in United’s humiliating 4-0 loss to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup last year.
Why does Powell deserve another chance?
Up to this point, Powell hasn’t shown many signs of progression or development, but there is no doubting his talent. The versatile attacking player is strong, athletic, technically gifted and classy on the ball.
The mercurial Englishman has represented his country up to Under-21 level and this week he scored twice for United’s Under-21 side in a huge 6-1 win over Leicester.
In that game, Powell played up front and he flourished in the position, which potentially provides Van Gaal with some much-needed options.
Powell is predominantly an attacking midfielder, but he can play as a striker and United currently only have two recognised centre-forwards in Rooney and Anthony Martial.
Will Van Gaal give him an opportunity?
Van Gaal hasn’t hesitated to throw youngsters into the first-team this season amidst the persistent criticism regarding his team’s style of play.
On top of that, the Dutch manager’s track record when it comes to bringing through and developing young talent has been second to none wherever he’s been.
He gave Spanish icons Xavi and Andres Iniesta their debuts for Barcelona in the late 1990s and both have gone on to establish themselves as two of the greatest footballers of all time.
With the busy festive period coming up, Van Gaal will have no choice but to rotate his squad in order to keep everyone fresh. United’s squad is severely depleted at the moment, so there is every chance that Powell’s recent re-emergence won’t be short-lived and he’ll be able to begin resurrecting his career sooner rather than later.
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