Manchester United have made their first signing of 2022, snapping up 18-year-old Toby Collyer from Brighton’s academy.
United have invested a lot of money into their academy in recent years, signing talented young players like Alejandro Garnacho, Isak Hansen-Aaroen and Charlie McNeill.
We’ve brought you the lowdown on Collyer, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at United.
Who is he?
Born in Worthing in January 2004, Collyer joined Brighton’s academy at Under-12 level and made his Under-18s debut when he was just 15-years-old.
He went from strength to strength after that six-minute cameo in 2019, establishing himself as a key player in 2020-21 as Albion finished third in Premier League South and won the Premier League Under-17s Cup.
He even made his Under-23s debut just a week after his 17th birthday, playing the full 90 minutes against Tottenham in January 2021.
After Collyer failed to agree terms on a new contract with the Seagulls, he found himself out of the side and made just one appearance for their youth sides this season.
But he then had a trial stint with United and played for the Under-23s in a friendly match against Huddersfield Town, where he reportedly impressed the onlooking coaches with an eye-catching display.
Chelsea and West Ham United were also said to be keen on signing Collyer before the Red Devils acted on their interest and completed the deal.
The teenager has captained England’s Under-16s and Under-17s and has also played for the national team at Under-19 level.
Justin Cochrane, United’s head of first-team development, reportedly played a significant role in completing the deal as he worked with Collyer at the England underage set-up.
— TheSecretScout (@TheSecretScout_) March 20, 2022
Where he plays
During his time at Brighton’s academy, Collyer mainly operated as the lone defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation.
The 18-year-old likes to dictate possession from the No.6 position and is renowned for his good range of passing. He also excels in a defensive capacity as he reads the game so well and is willing to cover every blade of grass.
Collyer has also shown his versatility by filling in at centre-back and left-back with Brighton’s Under-18s last season.
The midfielder will not be expected to compete for a first-team role immediately and looks set to continue his development with United’s Under-18s and Under-23s.
But United are in desperate need of a new central defensive midfielder and are yet to replace Michael Carrick, who retired at the end of the 2017-18 season.
While United will reportedly target a new defensive midfielder for the first-team this summer, Collyer will be hoping to eventually make the position his own.
What they said
– “Even when he was an under-15 he trained with us [the under-18s] a lot,” former Brighton coach Mark Beard told Sussex Live earlier this month.
“Even though he didn’t play a great deal at Under-16 he still trained. You could see he was going to be a top-class player. He is a pleasure to coach. He is so low maintenance, what I mean by that is you don’t know he is there.
“He gets on with his job. He regularly put in displays of 8/10 at the least. He had the best running stats, runs 13 kilometres a game, breaks things up.
“He is so unassuming, he gets on with his job. You want 11 of these type of players in the team. You know what you’re going to get in training, he works hard, he wants to improve, he’s intelligent. He’s a good all-round kid.”
– “With Toby, he does so much of the donkey work to allow Andrew [Moran] and Evan [Ferguson] to go and do what they can do,” Beard added.
“He plays like two men sometimes. As defensive midfielders go, and it is quite a disciplined role, he is probably the best in the country at doing it.
– “One of the best young central midfielders in the country,” the Secret Scout Twitter account said recently.
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