Wayne Rooney gives emphatic verdict on Derby wonderkid as Man Utd ‘lead chase’

Manchester United icon Wayne Rooney has hailed the “really bright future” ahead of Malcolm Ebiowei amid transfer links with the Red Devils.

United are reportedly ‘leading the race’ for the 18-year-old – with Premier League rivals Crystal Palace also interested in making a move. His current employers Derby County are likely to sell this summer amid the dire financial situation at Pride Park, further exacerbated by their recent relegation to League One.

Rooney has already been full of compliments for Ebiowei having given the youngster his first opportunity in senior football with Derby. Speaking after a sparkling performance against Coventry City last season, he said: “I thought he was excellent all game, the best player on the pitch. It was one of the best performances I have seen from a young player, consistently for 90 minutes, in a long time.

“He deserved that because he has worked extremely hard. His attitude is incredible, he wants to learn and he is an exciting young player. First of all, his attitude is very good. He has got an enormous amount of ability, he is brave, he will take the ball, he is not afraid to take players on, to get tackled, to make mistakes. So he has got a really bright future.”

Ebiowei enjoyed a breakout campaign in the Championship last term after progressing through Derby’s youth system. He eventually went on to make 16 appearances in all competitions, with his first senior goal coming against Blackpool towards the end of the campaign.

Despite his promising performances, the Rams still suffered relegation – an eventual 21-point deduction ultimately proving crucial.

Malcolm Ebiowei

Malcolm Ebiowei has been linked with a move to Man Utd
Getty Images)

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Whilst Rooney praised the development of Ebiowei, England’s all-time record goalscorer has voiced his frustration at being forced to sell a number of the club’s star performers to bolster finances.

Speaking in February, he said: “Nine players we lost during the January window and we lost another today. A young lad from Derby, a 16-year-old who didn’t want to leave the club. He didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want him to leave the club. I get a text message today saying he has been sold. From that point of view, the pride, the hope, the soul of this club is getting taken away from us and it’s not right.”

In the meantime, United look likely to have an extremely busy summer this season as Erik ten Hag attempts to improve the club’s fortunes on the pitch. Reports have suggested that they are targeting additions both in attack and midfield.

One of the prime targets throughout the window this far has been Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong, with ten Hag having enjoyed a profitable relationship with his compatriot at Dutch giants Ajax. Barcelona have already rejected the Red Devils’ opening bid but they are expected to return with a revised offer.

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