Manchester United only just missed out on signing Chelsea starlet Ethan Ampadu back in 2013.
Manchester Evening News have revealed that Ampadu had heavily impressed Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013, when his then team, Exeter Under-13s, faced the Red Devils’ youth team in a junior tournament.
Exeter’s former academy coach, Simon Hayward, spoke highly about Ampadu’s performance against United, as he revealed: “In that visit to Manchester United, there was a game going on with his age group, there were trialists from all over Europe.
“Ethan played as a central defender, a central midfielder and a centre forward at different times in the game and, in my opinion, he was the best player on the pitch no matter what position he played in.”
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Ampadu’s display definitely caught the eyes of Sir Alex, as the Scot immediately commanded club CEO David Gill to finalise a deal for the versatile youngster. However, with both Ferguson and Gill stepping down from their respective roles that year, the transfer never materialised, and the player ended up slipping through United’s grasp.
Ampadu continued his development at Exeter, and in August 2016, he became their youngest ever player when he made his competitive debut against Crawley in a Football League encounter.
In a recent interview, former Wales coach Chris Coleman also heaped praise on the 19-year-old, by likening him to Manchester United‘s star centre-back, Rio Ferdinand.
“His frame, athleticism, and understanding of the game, he’s a great communicator for someone so young. So at the moment, it (his best position) is a tough one to call,” said Coleman.
“He could end up playing holding midfielder or as a centre-back. He’s got a long way to go before you can liken him to someone like Rio Ferdinand, but I remember him coming on at West Ham in midfield, he gravitated into a centre-back.”
Ampadu, who was handed his Wales debut by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs back in 2017, made his first competitive appearance for the Dragons last week, in their 4-1 Nations League victory over Republic of Ireland.