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Youth prospect Ashley Fletcher set to join West Ham

According to reports from the Daily Mail, Manchester United striker Ashley Fletcher is set to join West Ham United after turning down a new contract at Old Trafford.

The mail report that Fletcher has already held talks with the Hammers on Thursday, ahead of agreeing a 4 year contract.

United will still demand compensation of around £500,000 for the Yorkshire-born forward, but will be disappointed to lose a player highly rated by U21’s coach Warren Joyce.

He shot to prominence last season during a 5 month loan spell at Barnsley where his 6 goals, including one at Wembley in the 3-1 League One play-off final against Millwall, helped secure promotion to the Championship.

United had made a proposal for him to stay at the club, but Fletcher is keen to make a breakthrough and believes opportunities will be limited for him at Old Trafford.

Fletcher is tall, quick and has improved his finishing after taking private sessions with superior striker coach Allan Russell, who has worked with the likes of Saido Berahino, Andre Gray, and Martyn Waghorn.

Leeds, Wolves, Bristol City, and Barnsley have all expressed a desire to sign him and West Ham may still yet agree to loan out him out to ensure his development continues.

Youth player Ashley Fletcher hopes Barnsley form will catch Jose’s attention

Manchester United Under-21 striker, Ashley Fletcher, is hoping that his recent visit to Wembley Stadium as a player will catch the eye of new United boss, Jose Mourinho.

Fletcher is currently on loan at Barnsley and recently scored in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy helping his team to a final victory. He then returned to Wembley to watch United V Palace in the FA Cup final.

Fletcher will be making another appearance at Wembley this afternoon, as a player, in the League One play-ff final, hoping he can help Barnsley to promotion. Maybe that will catch Mourinho’s attention.

“My aim will be to go back to Manchester United and see what happens there. I’ve got to play my game. If they like me and give me an opportunity, then I hope I can take it. That’s my aim, to go back there and show them what I’m about.”

Ashley Fletcher was the lead striker in United’s Under-21 team at the beginning of the season and has since been overtaken by Marcus Rashford. With Mourinho unlikely to load the squad full of youngsters next season, Fletcher had this to say:

“Going on loan again is another option. But my full focus will be to go back there and try to get into that first team.”

Darren Fletcher – a look back at his 12 years with United

Let’s be honest here, when Darren Fletcher first stepped onto the Old Trafford turf against FC Basel back in March 2003, you couldn’t have foreseen the then Young Scot going on to become a first team regular at the club, he just didn’t look like he had it in him to become a United player. However in a career that spanned 12 years at Old Trafford, Fletcher went on to become an essential part of the Manchester United team, fast becoming Sir Alex Fergusons’ first name on the team sheet when the big games came calling.

He may not have many tricks or the flicks in his locker, but in what he lacked, he more than made up for in work rate. It didn’t matter whether it was the 1st minute or the 90th minute, we could always rely on Fletch to hunt down the opposition and win the ball back. He may not have been a player who necessarily grabbed the headlines every week, but his importance to the side should never be under estimated.

Cameo’s in the 2002/03 campaign eventually led to Fletcher been handed a regular first team spot in the Manchester United side as the following season got underway. Despite playing somewhat out of position on occasions on the wing, the early signs were promising for the Young Scot. He might not have set the world alight, but he was doing a job for the side and that’s what mattered. He rounded off what was a fine debut season by starting against Millwall in the FA Cup Final in Cardiff, helping United secure a 3-0 victory.

Despite a slow start to the 2004/05 season, Fletcher yet again found himself back in amongst the United first team, scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-0 win against Middlesbrough. He followed that up by scoring goals against Charlton Athletic and Southampton, as Fletcher ended the season making in all 30 appearances netting 3 goals.  It may not have been as impressive as his debut campaign, but you could clearly see the development Fletcher was making as a player. His all round game passing, tackling and decision making was slowly but surely improving.

Darren Fletcher left United for West Brom in January 2015 (Picture: theguardian.com)
Darren Fletcher left United for West Brom in January 2015 (Picture: theguardian.com)

Playing alongside the likes of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane in the centre of the midfield at such a young age turned out to be a crucial experience for Fletch and one he would no doubt learn and benefit from, with arguably the standout moment coming back in October 2005, where after suffering a nightmare 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, Fletcher received harsh criticism from then United skipper Roy Keane. This was arguably a pivotal moment in Fletcher’s Old Trafford career. Would he respond to his critics and prove the doubters wrong or would he take the easy way out and leave the club. The answer would be of course he would stay prove the doubters wrong, and what better way to respond to your critics by than scoring the winner against Chelsea at Old Trafford. His clever looping header at the back post drifted over Peter Cech giving United a crucial 1-0 victory.

Throughout the following seasons, Fletcher again played his role in the club’s success on the field as United went on to win back to back Premier League titles and the European Cup in Moscow. The arrivals of Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson in the centre of midfield made regular first team opportunities for the Scot hard to come by, but he still managed an impressive 64 appearances over the 2 campaigns, (2006/07, 2007/08) however It wouldn’t be till next year where we would finally start to see the very best of Fletcher.

It couldn’t really have started much better for the Scot as we began the 2008/09 campaign,  scoring United’s first league goal of the new season against Newcastle United at Old Trafford with a delightful finish and scoring the all-important winner down at Fratton Park handing United a crucial 1-0 victory. Goals then followed against Everton at Goodsion Park and Gamba Osaka in the Club World Cup. Yes technically on the ball he may not have been that great, but his work rate for the side and winning the key midfield battles was essential for United. Every football side needs a player like Fletch in it if they are going to be successful.

If anyone doubted just how important Darren Fletcher had become to Manchester United, then the UEFA Champions League final against Barcelona in 2009 would be the moment were we realised just how important he actually was. After been shown a red card against Arsenal in the previous round, it meant Fletcher would have to sit out the clubs biggest game of the season. To say we missed him would be something of an understatement; we just didn’t look the same side without him. Many put the loss down to the magic of Messi, but it was Barcelona’s midfield pairing of Xavi and Iniesta who were the real trouble makers pulling the strings in the centre of midfield. You couldn’t help but feel if Fletcher was in the side that night, it could have been a different story and we would have retained the European Cup.

Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney lift the International Champions Cup (Picture: ibtimes.co.uk)
Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney lift the International Champions Cup (Picture: ibtimes.co.uk)

Despite the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez the following summer, the 2009/10 would arguably turn out to be Fletch’s finest season ever in a Manchester United shirt, as the club remained challenging on all 4 fronts. In a much hyped and tempered Manchester Derby Fletcher again stood up and delivered when it mattered most, scoring 2 headers as United went on to famously win 4-3. Goals then followed with a stunning half volley against Everton and a cheeky header at the back post against AC Milan in the European cup. His consistent and superb performances that season eventually led to Fletch been handed the captains armband for the first time in his united career against West Ham United at Old Trafford, and was even named in the PFA Team of the year.

Unfortunately his appearances became limited after Fletch suffered with ulcerative colitis which would see the Scot take a break from the game as he recovered.  He made his long anticipated return to the united side in December 2013 coming off the bench, in the club’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa. Just to see Fletcher back in a Manchester United shirt again was fantastic to see, it didn’t even matter how he even preformed, it was just brilliant to see him come back.

His time at the club was finally brought to an end on the 3rd February 2015, where Fletch joined West Brom on a free transfer. His stay at the club may be over, but his contribution will never be forgotten amongst the united faithful.