Coventry City have announced the departure of England youth international Charlie McCann to Manchester United after eight years with the Sky Blues. The 15-year-old is highly thought of in the City academy but has accepted the opportunity to join his boyhood club.
McCann moved to Coventry at the age of seven and his talent saw him called into the England Under-16 squad during the summer, making his debut in the 2-0 win over Uruguay in July. He also made a substitute appearance in defeat to Scotland.
The teenager had no plans to leave Coventry but an approach from United – the club he has supported as a boy – forced his hand. His parents told the League Two club he would have turned down a move to any other side, according to the Coventry Telegraph.
"When a big football club come knocking, and it is the club that Charlie supports, you must let him go and have that experience," academy manager Richard Stevens told the club's official website.
"We did not want to sell him, we did not need a fee for him even though there was a fee involved. He has been unbelievable for us, even making his England debut back in August. Charlie goes with complete support from me and the rest of the staff from the Academy."
Writing in the Coventry matchday programme for the game against Carlisle, he added: "I have spent a lot of time with Charlie and I love the boy to pieces. I also have a lot of time for his family who are incredibly supportive.
"We will keep an eye on him and be here if he needs us. His parents told me that if it would have been any other club it would have been a firm no, but when it is the club that Charlie supports, that is football. Charlie goes with our full support."
The fee United have paid for McCann is undisclosed but nevertheless the deal represents the latest arrival at the club's academy which is now under the control of former midfielder Nicky Butt. The 20-time English league champions have made great strides in adding to their development ranks in recent times, recruitng Aliou Traore and Di'Shon Bernard from Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea respectively, before Arnau Puigmal signed from Espanyol last week.
Butt was installed as United's head of academy in February and recent insisted that the club's record of bringing through home grown players makes them among the most attractive destinations in Europe.
"We are competing with a lot of clubs these days but I still believe we have got the best pathway," Butt told the club's official website. "It is a fact we are probably the best or one of the best in Europe at developing our lads for the first-team. We can speak to parents honestly and say, look, we always give our lads a chance to play for the club; the pathway is there to play if they are good enough."
"If not, we have x amount of players who play professionally across Europe and make a good living by playing football. The percentage who get to the first-team is very small so we have got to offer something else and we offer a really good upbringing and football knowledge. If you look at home many around the Championship are from our academy, it is great for the coaches."