Is Nick Powell football’s hottest new prospect

Written by Nathan Shepherd

With all the excitement surrounding clinical Dutchman Robin Van Persie, Manchester United’s fellow newest recruit, one of the most promising talents in the English game, has almost been compl

With all the excitement surrounding clinical Dutchman Robin Van Persie, Manchester United’s fellow newest recruit, one of the most promising talents in the English game, has almost been completely forgotten about…

The name Nick Powell is one that the majority of Premier League fans may not be all that familiar with, however one element of football recognises it very well indeed…the scouts. Such rave reviews appearing for club and country on their behalf have resulted in the Crewe Alexandra starlet being chased by a number of top-flight clubs.

To the point, he was tipped as one of the most sought-after players in the Football League system!

The England Under-18 international has received much attention not only because of his exemplary vision, composure and natural reading of the game but also as a result of his age. Last season, barely 18 years old, the former Sandbach High Student managed to take one of the English Leagues by storm, with a series of eye-catching performances. Most notably a thumping 30-yard belter against Gillingham and a stunning 25-yard volley in the League 2 play-off final win over Cheltenham, to which inspired the Railwaymen to promotion. In this case, awareness was inevitable, just his second campaign in professional football the attacking midfielder has made over 50 appearances for his boyhood club and represented England at Under-16, U17 and U18 levels, his promise clearly spotted at an early age.

A graduate through his home-town clubs famed academy, run by former manager and current director of football Dario Gradi, Nick Powell has been considered as one of if not the best player to emerge from an ever so successful football school that boasts an impressive history of developing players and simply selling them on, ultimately keeping the club afloat. Crewe supremo, Gradi, has spent almost 30 years with the club to oversee the development of a number of gifted players in his time, producing the likes of David Platt, Danny Murphy, Dean Ashton etc, all of whom switched to greater destinations. However, many especially the teenagers mentor, do not underestimate Powell, they believe the current prized asset is more than capable of surpassing those who have rolled off the club’s conveyor belt in the past. In fact, he may well be the most prestigious transfer in the clubs history, a proven match winner, so if anything its best to cash in on their key man as much as they can.

To be honest, given his record for unearthing talent, who could argue with expert Dario Gradi.

Little known to Powell the reputation he had built thus far purely justified mass interest to clinch his signature, adding to a popular scouting trend adopted in recent years. In which, instead of splashing the cash extravagantly at known quantities from overseas, a number of EPL clubs rather invest wisely in highly-rated English teenagers touted as the next big thing. It can be seen most notably with Arsenal (Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Walcott etc) especially in the case of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose progression Nick Powell can take further heart from. The young gunner likewise jumped to the Premier League less than a year after helping Southampton win promotion from League One, a division where brawn often outweighs brains. Though, immediately making headlines, he is priceless inspiration to succeed at the top level, as not only did he find himself starting for Arsenal but also England in their opening group match of Euro 2012 against France, making the transition look simple enough. Though for Nick Powell, as many speak glowingly of his potential, there is arguably no higher praise than the belief he could have the same impact of superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo, especially when it comes from a world-class manager like Sir Alex Ferguson. In a similar situation the Portuguese captain was also 18 when he joined United from Sporting Lisbon back in 2003, with what he personally managed to achieve nothing short of remarkable. Let’s just say after his world-record £80m transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid three summers ago, Cristiano Ronaldo is now deemed to be one of the greatest players in world football…so no pressure.

A challenge worth rising to…The next Cristiano Ronaldo, Sir Alex Ferguson thinks so…

The Gunners may well have been the Red Devil’s biggest threat in landing teenage prodigy Nick Powell but it has long been United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s practice to spot, capture and integrate gifted youngsters to his squad. A reputation still left untouchable, as the firm favourites, Manchester United, wasted no time releasing a statement confirming Powell had passed a medical, penned a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee to join the Premier League giants commencing July 2012. It’s a typical United transfer – a player with undoubted talent, has vast potential to improve and who’s value could easily rocket in the future, so a genuine reason for long-term optimism. Fergie and his coaching team are undoubtedly keen to work with the player closely as soon as possible. In addition, under his watchful eye, Fergie has found a raw talent with a desired combination. Not only does Nick Powell like to dictate matches in the hole just as superstar striker Wayne Rooney but also orchestrate play and act as the catalyst behind attacks rather than the beneficiary like midfield maestro Paul Scholes. So it’s not hard to understand why Sir Alex Ferguson kept tabs on the teenage sensation, determined and decisive during negotiations, it appears the Scot has faith in the teenage sensation to help secure the clubs future, as big as that is.

As the nation’s hottest prospect the name Nick Powell is therefore certainly one to remember!