What do you get if a club with unlimited money also uses it to great effect with proper planning? The treble winners, Manchester City. While the senior team continues to freshen up the squad, the youth side is also getting a huge injection of quality now with the signing of Luca Fletcher from Reading.
Fletcher is considered as one of the biggest talents in the English youth circuit. An unassuming, under-the-radar signing now, he could well prove to be a masterstroke in half a decade from now on.
Here’s all you need to know about Cityzens’ latest wonderkid –
Boom 💥 Manchester City have completed the the signing of 16 year old striker Luca Fletcher from Reading. 🏴
Been told fee around 700k with future add-ons.
— TheSecretScout (@TheSecretScout_) June 27, 2023
Who is Luca Fletcher?
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Luca Fletcher is a 16-year-old prospect who made his way through the Reading academy ranks before making his U18 debut this past season. He made his debut aged just 15, as he turned sixteen in April.
He is a centre-forward by trade, although, in the style of true modern attackers, he is comfortable playing out wide on both wings. However, the left-wing could be his preferred spot from where he can cut inside on his favoured right foot to get off shots.
He joins City as one of the highest-rated prospects in England, impressing in Reading’s youth ranks.
Style of play
It can be difficult to gauge the style of play of a player if he has only made one recorded appearance which lasted 20 minutes. However, footage from his earlier games reveals a player who couldn’t be more suited to Pep Guardiola’s game.
The one thing which immediately pops off is his pressing from the front. Despite being so young, he already has the knack of when to start the press, who to press, and how to cut off passing angles.
It makes him an asset in counter-pressing teams, a philosophy followed by pretty much every top team these days.
Add to that his multi-positional utility and he becomes a coach’s dream.
Then comes his skill with the ball. He has the ability to manoeuvre the ball in tight spaces, as he often relies on his dribbling skills to get out of trouble. It is the one area which has come on leaps and bounds and unlocked his ability to play out wide.
More information can be gathered about his game next season when he suits up in a higher level of competition. That’s where his potential comes into play.
Luca Fletcher potential
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It is no secret that Manchester City’s youth development program is arguably the best in England and one of the best in the world. A single philosophy has seeped into the structure of the club, which leads to the emergence of special players like Rico Lewis.
Therefore, next season will be a true test of Luca Fletcher’s potential. So far, in his nascent career, he has made other clubs sit up and take notice of his ability.
Playing among, and against the best England has to offer next season should see his game improve massively. The trajectory of development for youth players is impossible to gauge.
So many factors play into it- first-team action, injury luck, opportunity break, senior team dynamics, trust of manager, etc. However, at his best, Fletcher has shown signs of developing into an elite pressing forward, a la Roberto Firmino.
With physical bulking up, which will come naturally after he turns 18, he can become a pressing machine while improving on his goalscoring ability. He has also played as a False 9, which shows coaches trust his playmaking instincts.
Everything point to Fletcher learning a lot at Manchester City. He could be an ideal foil for someone who’s a more conventional striker, like Jaden Heskey next season.
Obviously, it is too soon to talk about his first-team prospects. Manchester City are arguably the toughest side to break into, even more so for a forward. The likes of Cole Palmer, who is very talented, are still looking for their breakthrough.
Therefore, Fletcher’s first task next season will be to become a crucial part of the U18s. Achieving that at the age of 16 will go a long way to stamping his credentials. If his limitless potential is realised, then Manchester City’s signing will be hailed as a masterstroke in the time to come.