Manchester United midfielder James Garner has admitted he isn’t sure what role he will have at Old Trafford next season amid interest from elsewhere, writing in the Championship play-off final matchday programme.
The 21-year-old was a crucial asset for Nottingham Forest during the 2021/22 campaign, recording four goals and 10 assists in 49 competitive appearances and proving to be a real threat going forward for the Reds.
Asserting himself as a set-piece specialist as well, he was key to unlocking many second-tier defences, though he didn’t just impress against opponents in the same division, performing admirably against the likes of Arsenal, Leicester City and Liverpool in the FA Cup earlier this calendar year.
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His performances haven’t gone unnoticed with Leeds United, Southampton and Leicester City all thought to be interested in recruiting the midfielder and Forest are also hopeful of a City Ground return for the 21-year-old.
Garner may have a role to play under Erik Ten Hag at United though if he can impress in pre-season, though he isn’t guaranteed to be one of the first names on the teamsheet at Old Trafford considering his lack of experience in the top flight.
And the former Forest loanee is currently unclear on where his future lies as he spoke about his future ahead of yesterday’s play-off final victory against Huddersfield Town.
He said (via the Daily Mirror): “The whole idea of a loan is to show everyone what you can do, get better and put yourself in the best possible position to go back to your parent club.
“I don’t know what that will consist of at the moment, but I feel like I’ve given myself the best possible chance to go in and do my best.”
Garner has certainly earned a move to the Premier League and did so regardless of yesterday’s result – because his performances have been superb as an attacking threat and a player that helped to keep things ticking over in midfield.
The chance to impress Ten Hag at United may be an attractive option for the 21-year-old – but he needs to prioritise game time above anything else at this stage and this is why a return to Forest would probably be his best move.
Already accustomed to life in the East Midlands and Cooper’s methods, it wouldn’t take him a long time to settle back in if he arrived at the City Ground once more and he would probably be a regular starter once more.
He may not be guaranteed that game time at United, Leeds, Leicester or with the Saints, so it would be no surprise if he ended up in the East Midlands once more, potentially enabling him to thrive again.
If he can impress in the top tier with the Reds, that could persuade United to make him an important part of their first team for the 2023/24 season, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up and how he fares.