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United ask exciting 17-year-old prodigy to join their academy – report

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Manchester United’s academy was a beacon of shining light last season as Erik ten Hag’s senior squad was ravaged by injuries.

Players like Kobbie Mainoo are now established internationals, while debutants like Willy Kambwala showed enough to prove they could have a future at Old Trafford.

United’s attention towards bringing their academy at par with their rivals after it had lagged behind has started paying dividends and they are not looking at easing up.

Ahead of the start of pre-season, where it is widely expected that a lot of youngsters will travel with the senior team and some might surprise as well, they have started working towards adding the youth academy to fill any gaps that might pop up due to promotions.

Robert Cook poses during the Perth Glory - 2023/24 A-League Men's Headshots session at Fremantle Oval on September 27, 2023 in Perth, Australia.

Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

Manchester United eye Robert Cook

The Sun reports that United have asked 17-year-old goalkeeping prodigy Robert Cook to join their academy “this week”.

Cook, hailing from Australia, plays for Perth Glory and has been the target of numerous English clubs who have been impressed with his potential.

He is reportedly on trial with Sunderland this week but is expected to join United as well as all clubs try and pitch him their project to convince him to choose them.

United have highly-rated prospect Elyh Harrison in their goalkeeping ranks who they might be thinking about promoting to the U21s next season.

It would leave a natural gap in the U18s and Robert Cook would be a more than capable option to fill that vacancy and eventually challenge Harrison as both move up the ranks.

It is also worth noting that of United’s three senior goalkeepers, Tom Heaton is pretty much in a ceremonial, leadership role, while Altay Bayindir rarely plays as Ten Hag doesn’t rotate his keepers often.

Therefore, there might come a position where United just prefer adding a youth keeper to their senior squad as a backup who trains with the senior team and plays the odd game, as Bayindir did.

Who is Robert Cook?

The 17-year-old Australian has caught the eye of many clubs after coming through the ranks at Perth Glory. He already stands at 6’2″ at such a young age with undoubted potential to grow even more.

It would allow him to have huge command of his area and register himself as a towering presence for set-pieces.

Australia have invested a lot in their youth program in recent years, with the likes of Garang Kuol, Nestory Irankunda, Anthony Pavlesic, and Cameron Peupion coming through the ranks in Europe at elite sides.

Cook would hope to follow those footsteps and with trials already lined up at multiple teams, chances are high that he is signed to one of those teams by the team new season begins.

United would hope they are the club he chooses because of his vast potential and how open their senior goalkeeping situation is beyond Andre Onana.

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