West Ham United have confirmed the signing of striker Ashley Fletcher on a four-year deal following the expiration of his deal with Manchester United. The 20-year-old spent last season on loan at Barnsley where he helped the club win promotion to the Championship via the play-offs and the Football League Trophy – scoring in both Wembley finals.
The England Under-20 international netted nine goals and made four assists in 26 appearances for the Tykes last term, but will now have the opportunity to impress in the Premier League. Fletcher failed to make a single senior appearance at Old Trafford during seven years at the club, and his patience has finally worn thin.
While Fletcher was on loan at Oakwell, 18-year-old Marcus Rashford was thrust into the United first team amid an injury crisis during Louis van Gaal's second season in charge. The former Bolton Wanderers youngster has no regrets over moving to West Ham, however, and is thrilled to become the club's fourth summer signing.
"I am very excited to be here," he told the club's official website. "West Ham are a massive club and I am just happy that I can come and further my development here at West Ham. I think it is a club with a lot of ambition. They have a lot of good players and it was a special final season. They managed to finish the campaign very well. West Ham are a club built on traditions of giving youngsters a run and hopefully I can get my chance as well."
A United statement added: "Everyone at Manchester United would like to wish Ashley the best of luck in his future career." Fletcher becomes the second significant departure from the club since the arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager, following Victor Valdes' move to Middlesbrough, but comes after the forward rejected a new deal.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reported in June that Fletcher had turned down the offer of a new contract and was set to move to Championship side Leeds United, before West Ham emerged as the main contender for his signature. The completion of the deal comes after Mourinho defended his record with young players upon his unveiling as United boss, claiming he had given 49 players their senior debuts during his managerial career.