Manchester United academy graduate Shola Shoretire signed his first professional contract with the club on Monday, the club announced.
The 17-year-old “wonderkid” snubbed Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain after talking to Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, and Michael Owen, who convinced him to continue his development at Old Trafford, according to the Daily Mail.
The announcement came just four days after Shoretire agreed personal terms with the club, and he recorded a hattrick and assist in the Under-23s’ 6-4 win against Blackburn Rovers in Premier League 2 on Friday. He subsequently earned a call up for a first-team training session on Sunday, which he has done on a consistent basis this season, before inking his deal alongside manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the following day.
He expressed his excitement to join Solskjaer’s side in an Instagram post.
“It’s a dream come true to sign my first professional contract for my boyhood club!,” Shoretire said. “Thank you to everyone at the club and to my family who have helped me get to this moment. Hard work continues!”
The winger, who can also play as a No. 9 or No. 10, has had a sensational academy career for United, as he has continuously impressed coaches and fans with his performances throughout his seven-year career with the club. He played an integral role in Neil Ryan’s Under-18 squad last season, and he has done the same by recording five goals and three assists in 13 Premier League 2 appearances for Neil Wood’s Under-23s this season.
Shoretire burst onto the scene in December 2018 when manager Nicky Butt substituted the then 14-year-old on in the 75th minute of United’s 2-1 win over Valencia, making him the youngest player to compete in a youth cup or league match for United and the youngest player to compete in UEFA Youth League history. The Youth League record stood until 2019, when it was broken by Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko.
Since moving from Wallsend Boys Club in his native Newcastle to United at age 10, Shoretire has always played up in older age groups. Despite the age and size difference between him and his opponents, Shoretire uses his renowned technical ability and vision to break down back lines and create scoring chances, which can be seen in his assist for Facundo Pellistri’s first United goal.
Under-23s coach Neil Wood sung the praises of the “very technical” forward in an interview with the Manchester Evening News on Dec. 15, 2020.
“He is very mature for his age, the way he plays, he does a lot of work, takes a lot of positions up, and he’s played a lot of roles,” Wood said. “He’s probably been one of our most consistent outstanding performers throughout the season.”
Talking about his play style, Shoretire cited Brazilian legend Ronaldinho as one of his biggest inspirations in a video on UMM’s YouTube channel on Jan. 3.
“He was so confident in himself, skillful; he had everything,” Shoretire said. “If you’re not having fun on the pitch, then there’s no point, is there? You’ve always got to go into the game thinking I’m going to do well.”
He also credited Rashford as the current player that inspires him the most.
“Things he does on the pitch, off the pitch, he’s just a good role model,” he said. “I’ve seen him do that; I can do it too.”
Additionally, Shoretire spoke about the influence that his conversations with Owen have had on him.
“I’ve spoken to him in person, and it’s just inspiring because he made his debut at ,” he said. “It’s always good to hear from Mike and older players who’ve retired now that know about the game and can help you.”
The Englishman has also represented his home country at the Under-16 level, and he is eligible to represent his father’s native Nigeria as well.
With confidence and skill at his disposal, it is likely that Shoretire will make his first-team debut at some point this season. He will also remain in action for the Under-23s.