This year like any other, Manchester United will be preparing to release a handful of youngsters who may not make the grade. But the decision is not always the club’s.
In successive years, two young players made the choice to quit Manchester United rather than extend their deals, both joining Spanish side Almeria.
Largie Ramazani left the club in 2020, after a strong campaign for United’s under-23 side with nine goals in 13 games. He was attracted by the prospect of first team football, and an extended contract, with Almeria offering him a deal until 2025.
Last summer he was followed by Arnau Puigmal, who had begun the 2020/21 campaign as the best player in United’s under-23s. He too was offered a long-term contract by Almeria, who have him signed up to 2026.
Puigmal and Ramazani decisions close to paying off
Puigmal and Ramazani are one game away from clinching promotion to Spain’s top flight, La Liga.
Almeria sit second in the second division, level on points with first place Eibar, with the top two clinching automatic promotion spots.
Real Valladolid are third, two points back, and Almeria face 12th place Leganes on the final day, hoping to wrap up promotion.
Puigmal scored a 90th minute equaliser in the last game to keep their promotion dream in their own hands.
The former Espanyol traineer is flourishing with playing regularly, becoming a key part of the squad. He has played 33 games, scoring five goals, and providing four assists.
Ramazani is 21, like Puigmal, but in his second season at the club. He has scored nine goals in all competitions, including eight in the league, to help them on their way.
Next season could be a whole new ball game, with promotion to La Liga, and the prospect of facing Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid.
This won’t be easy, but this is what the young duo dreamed of when they made the brave decision to quit Manchester United, rather than stay and be farmed out on loan, and possibly never make the first team.
It is good to see them both doing well, and this weekend they could reach the next level in their careers.