Butt outlines his plan for United prospect Gomes
Manchester United's Head of Academy Nicky Butt has outlined the next steps planned for Angel Gomes, after the youngster signed his first professional contract.
The 17-year-old became the youngest-ever recipient of the Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player of the Year award last season and, three days later, also became the youngest player since Duncan Edwards to appear for United's first team, when he came off the bench late in the final-day win over Crystal Palace.
The appearance also ensured Gomes was the first player born this Millennium to appear in the Premier League and there is genuine excitement to track his continued progress as Butt explains.
“First and foremost, he’s one of our boys and one we’ve had for a while and a very talented young man,” Butt told MUTV.
“We’ve got quite a few talented boys in the set up who we’re very excited about and Angel is one of them. To get him tied up to a long-term contract is really good for our club and it just shows the direction we’re moving in within the Academy.”
Gomes: I've worked my whole life for thisVideo
Gomes, who has been with the club since the age of six, is now set to step up to the Reserves to embrace the next challenge in his career. He has still yet to make an appearance at that level, despite his brief senior outing.
“He has big a future, but he still has a long way to go,” continued Butt.
“It’s not a case of signing the contract and going straight into the first team. To be honest, 90 per cent of the reason he made his debut were the circumstances regarding the following game [the Europa League final against Ajax], but it was a big pat on the back for what he’d done so far.
”He’s a bright lad and he knows he has got a long way to go to stamp his authority in the first team. He needs to get in the Reserves, settle in there, become a dominant player at Reserve-team level and step up.
“We try to push them as fast as we can now and stretch all the young lads. The youth team can become maybe a little too easy, so you push them on to the Reserves and see how it affects them in the transition period. We have the Under-19s in between and he can always drop down into the youth team when big games come along that are challenging for the club and for him.”
The big hope for everyone at the club is to see Angel thrive in the United first team and Butt believes it will be down to the player himself to make that dream a reality.
“It’s easy to map out pathways but, ultimately, they make their own pathway,” he explained.
“They can always do well, go into different teams and blow it up straight away in the first five or six games and go on to the next one.
”Some people go straight in the first team like Marcus [Rashford] and some people have three or four years in the Reserves like Tom Cleverley.
“Some mature quicker than others – some are men at 16 and some at 23, so it’s difficult to map an outline of a pathway as it’s up to the boy and how he does on the stepping stones along the way.”