Thanks to the injury crisis at Manchester United U23s’ frontline, there was a chance for a new face to make a mark on the memories of the close observers present at Meadow Park, Borehamwood on October 17, 2020.
Getting the chance to play as a striker for the Mancunian club is one thing, and scoring goals against an Arsenal team that possess the senior names like Cédric Soares and William Saliba is totally a different aspect — a dream that doesn’t always come true.
Arsenal U23s hosted Manchester United U23s in a Premier League 2 game, and Joe Hugill was the name to lead the line for the red side of Manchester.
The Red Devils boss Neil Wood had shown his faith in the 17-year-old forward, or it can be said that his brace against Blackburn Rovers U23s earlier this month helped Hugill keep his place as United’s No. 9.
Nonetheless, it was a big opportunity for a 17-year-old kid playing for the Under 23s, and the former Sunderland starlet needed to crack the occasion.
Not only did his performance against a half-senior Arsenal side raised quite a few eyebrows, but also Hugill was the man to rack up the decisive goal for Manchester United. And the game ended in a 3-3 scoreline.
Signed in the last summer transfer window from Sunderland, Hugill has already had amassed three U23 goals in two games for the Red Devils.
And although there has not been any official update from the club in regard to Hugill getting his first professional contract at Man United, the club is understood to have already triggered the aforementioned professional contract on his 17th birthday on Monday, as per reports from Sky Sports.
Hugill joined United from Sunderland for a reported transfer fee in the excess of £300,000, having been tracked by both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur last summer.
Speaking in one of his latest reports, Sky Sports News’ journalist James Cooper said,
“Joe Hugill’s progress has come as a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff at Manchester United who recognised his potential when they brought him in from Sunderland.
“But the speed of that progress has exceeded expectations, bearing in mind he’s only been at the club for three months.
“Hugill was part of a recruitment drive that has seen some of Europe’s best young talent arrive at Manchester United in recent weeks to not only bolster the club’s Academy but also provide Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with more options further down the line.
“In the light of injuries among the U23 squad, Hugill has taken his chance to claim the striker’s slot and claimed two goals in three starts.
“The teenager will probably play most of his football this season with the U18s as the Academy coaches aim to nurture him further and work on his physical development.”
Brought in as a first-year academy scholar, the Durham-born Hugill made his United debut for their U21s against Rochdale in the EFL Trophy and soon got promoted to the U23s.
He has since been impressive with his forward play and is deemed to be a future star for Manchester United’s senior side.