Omari Forson & Ten Hag: Is he really going to throw his Man Utd career away?

Posted Monday, February 12, 2024 by

Omari Forson & Ten Hag: Is he really going to throw his Man Utd career away?

COMMENT: Omari Forson. Sometimes you can make the leap too soon. And while, at least outwardly, there is frustration. For those who have worked so closely with Forson at Manchester United, they've seen this all before...

With his deal running down, a new contract's on the table. The playing opportunities - the first team minutes - have been increasing. Yet for Forson, nothing is yet agreed. Indeed, a change of agents over Christmas has raised eyebrows in and around the club about just what Forson is thinking. This isn't about money. Nor status. But opportunity. And there's clearly doubts for the 19 year-old about where he fits in Manchester United's immediate future.

But as we say, United staff have seen this all before. Indeed, it's constant. A London lad nicked away from Tottenham's academy, the lure of home is always going to be there. Indeed, Arsenal made a serious, aggressive pitch to Omari just 12 months into his stay at Carrington. But the kid, at that time, wasn't tempted and would eventually sign pro forms as a United player.

Less than three years on and those suitors are back. Or at least, now they see their chance. The fact is, they never went away. The feeling amongst London clubs being that Forson will eventually be tempted home.

But will it be so easy? To be fair to United, specifically the manager, Erik ten Hag, no-one could accuse them of simply standing back and letting Forson slip away. Ten Hag rates the 19 year-old. He's kept him close. And despite the contract deadlock, it is at a such a time that Ten Hag has begun introducing Forson to first team football.

It's only been bits and pieces, sure. But given the player's contract status. The uncertainty around his long-term commitment to the cause. It shows how highly the manager rates Forson that he is bringing him through as he is. This is how a manager introduces a player he sees as a five, ten-year prospect. Ten Hag could've held onto Facundo Pellistri or even Joe Hugill and sent Forson away to spend the final six months of his career at a Forest Green or Grimsby.

But he didn't. He chose Forson over a Uruguay international. Further, as he did at Wolves, he used him at a crucial moment in a crucial game - not only in terms of his team's season, but also for the manager's future. This must mean something to Forson and those he pays for advice...

Indeed, Ten Hag even put Forson on notice just a week ago when conceding he'd hoped to have signed a striker last month. While admitting he was short of options up front, the Dutchman was eager to name-check Forson as one he can turn to: "It's not a secret I wanted a striker.

"With the injury to (Anthony) Martial, we don't really have the back-up. But it wasn't possible because we have to match the FFP (financial fair play) rules.

"(But) we have Omari (Forson), we have Amad Diallo.

"Of course we have (Marcus) Rashford who can play there. But I think for the rest, all the positions are occupied. We have to be a little bit creative, it's up to the No.9 position."

Of course, Forson isn't the natural No9 that Ten Hag is seeking. But he can do the job. Played primarily on the left of a front three at under-age level, United staff haven't tried to pigeonhole Forson into one set position. Left-side, right, as a No10 or second striker, Forson's shown he is comfortable in all such roles. And it was that versatility which saw him drive out the space and play in FA Youth Cup winning teammate Kobbie Mainoo for the winner at Wolves a fortnight ago. He was only on the pitch for minutes, but he made the difference on his Premier League debut. Having come so far, does he really want to give that all away?

As we say, United have seen this before. There was another lad they nicked away from Tottenham's academy. A player they had high hopes for, though not everyone involved in the game at the time saw it the same way. Indeed, this player - as his teammates Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Chris Casper won the U18 Euros, didn't even make England's emergency list. That player? David Beckham.

Beckham would make his debut at the same age as Forson, before being farmed out to Preston North End. Ten Hag, in contrast, is keeping Forson close... even with these doubts about his contract. Does he really want to throw that all away?

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