Manchester United have lost their fastest player against their wishes with wonderkid Deji Sotona rejecting a new deal to join Nice.
Sotona, 17, has agreed a deal with the French club as he searches for greater first-team opportunities under the guidance of Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira.
The Irish international rejected a three-year professional contract and departed when his scholarship terms expired.
The Red Devils will now only get FIFA compensation for the youngster, who clocked as the fastest player when he was promoted to train with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team squad.
According to The Athletic, Sotona trained with the first team on a number of occasions and last September ran 22.9mph in a series of tests.
His departure will without ever signing a professional deal will net United less than £200,000 after he wanted assurances over first-team involvement and a weekly salary just under five figures.
Nice confirmed the signing of Sotona on Wednesday, with a club statement reading: “OGC Nice is delighted to welcome an element with great potential who will join Patrick Vieira’s group this season.
The Irish youth international made 11 starts and 11 substitute appearances for United Under-18s last season.
The inability of the club to tie him down to a professional deal after he turned 17 reportedly raised questions with some at the club.
Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already brought in Donny van de Beek but Jadon Sancho remains Manchester United’s number one target.
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Sotona has played both centrally and out wide and after scoring the winner against Wigan in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals said: “I’m not normally a No 9. I like playing on the wing, But I had to do a job for the team and I think I did all right.”
United have bolstered their attacking options at Under-18 level with Joe Hugill hitting the ground running after a move from Sunderland.
Swedish talent Isak Hansen-Aaroen has also impressed early on, whilst Anthony Elanga has moved up to the Under-23s side with high hopes after winning last year’s prestigious Jimmy Murphy Academy Player of the Year award.
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