According to The Sun, Preston North End and Wigan Athletic are battling Sunderland for the loan signing of Man United youngster James Garner.
The 18-year-old is very highly-rated at United, and Garner made his first start of the season in the Europa League tonight in their 1-0 win at Partizan.
Mason Greenwood is another product of United’s academy that has broken through the ranks and made his name in the first-team. With manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer putting faith in youth, United’s academy players will be awaiting a chance to impress.
So far this season, Garner has scored five goals in five matches for United’s U23 sides. It seems the Red Devils are keen for their young star to get experience in the Championship.
Garner would gain valuable game time and experience from playing in the Championship or League One.
Even just looking back at last season, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham spent the full campaign at Championship clubs. A year later and they are all playing major roles in a strong Chelsea squad.
James arrived at Wigan as an 18-year-old that had never played a competitive match. He left after playing in three positions, making 44 appearances and won three end of season awards.
United may be tempted to send Garner to Wigan because of the work they done with James last season. However, Preston are a great club that will be fighting at the right end of the table come May, and are managed by Alex Neil who is a great coach of young players.
Sunderland are also credited with an interest in Garner. We look at who would be a winner and loser if he was to head to Wearside…
Winner: Luke O’Nien
O’Nien has been played in a number of positions so far this season, but if Garner was to arrive then O’Nien could find some consistency in where he is deployed.
Garner is known for being a central midfielder, and his arrival could mean that O’Nien is moved to the CAM role, where he could add to his goal tally this season.
Sunderland need depth in their squad if they’re to mount a promotion charge in League One this season, and signing Garner could prove to be a smart bit of business by Phil Parkinson’s side.
Loser: Grant Leadbitter
Leadbitter has made seven appearances so far this season for Sunderland, but could find himself down the pecking order in Phil Parkinson’s plans if Garner was to arrive in January.
Leadbitter is 33 and some Sunderland supporters will feel as though he’s past his best, and they might be wanting to see a youngster that is willing to showcase his talent at the earliest of opportunities.
Competition for places is never a bad dilemma to have as a manager, but Leadbitter might be feeling as though his days at the Stadium of Light are numbered if Garner was to arrive.