Manchester United’s James Garner is enjoying an excellent campaign on loan with Nottingham Forest.
Garner, 20, joined United’s youth academy when he was just a teenager.
After successfully climbing the club’s illustrious youth ranks, Garner, despite his young age, has already experienced one high-profile loan move.
Making the switch to Championship side Watford last summer, Garner went on to feature in 21 matches, in all competitions.
Despite racking up the minutes for the Hornets though, United’s young midfielder found himself recalled in January and sent out to Nottingham Forest instead.
In what is quickly turning into a hugely successful spell, Garner’s time in Nottinghamshire has already seen the Englishman play a vital role in The Reds Championship survival.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Stretty News, Steven Beck, agent to Garner and owner of Triple S agency, has heaped the praise on his young talent’s recent performances.
“I think when we were talking to Watford I knew it was going to be a big opportunity but also a big challenge,” Beck said. “An 18-year-old on his first loan, it could have gone either way – to be fair, we were happy with the minutes he got. I don’t feel he was performing at the level he is now, even when he was starting on a regular basis.
“I just feel he is more himself at the minute, you can see he’s happy with the way he’s playing. I think the team get him, I think the manager has been good for him. So I think the first loan was a success in term of minutes, experience and playing for a big club in Watford – but this one, he’s just taken to it with ease in terms of with the manager – we knew he had a plan for him, we knew he was going to get the opportunities.”
Going on to reveal just how much interest United had in Garner in the winter, Beck said: “When the opportunity came for him to leave Watford, there was Nottingham Forest, Blackburn, Rangers and there were a few others clubs coming in for him at that point – James was reluctant to leave Watford, he wanted to stay and prove he was good enough.
“It was like ‘but I have to advise that I know they’re looking for another midfielder and I don’t want the door to shut and you’re still here and you don’t play.’ – So it was more me saying ‘trust me on this one – I think this will be a better club for you. I know what Watford are doing’ – I also look after Newcastle’s Matty Longstaff and they [Watford] made an approach for him so it was obvious to us that they were in the market for another player similar to James.”
In what appears to be an excellent decision to switch to Forest, it goes without saying, despite how effective Garner has been, all good things must eventually come to an end.
The United loanee is set to return to his parent club’s set-up at the end of the current campaign and Beck feels his midfielder may have done enough to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a tough decision.
When asked about the possibility of Garner becoming a regular in United’s squad next season, Beck said: “I think so. James is always really confident, but he’s not silly and he doesn’t think he’s above his station. He knows that to play for Man United, certainly in the position he plays in and at his age, you’ve got to get the experience and you’ve got to be on your game.
“I think he thinks he’s certainly good enough for the squad but not by any means thinking he should be starting week in, week out. He backs himself though, he’s trained with them for two years. He knows the level, he’s probably learned more about himself as a player […] So yes, I think James backs himself to be in the squad and giving his manager food for thought.”
Although Garner has been a standout performer in England’s second-tier this season, Beck knows United’s midfield is a stacked position and therefore hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a third loan.
“Third loan? – I honestly don’t know,” admitted Beck. “I had a couple of chats with John Murtough last week, but I’m so relaxed on the situation, as is James because things are going so well for him. […] James has put himself in a great position where he’s probably going to have, if he does go out on loan again, the majority of the Championship and I would be amazed if one or two Premier League clubs don’t try and do something.
“I know Brighton like him, I know Norwich like him. […] I know Rangers are really keen on him as well.”
Although Garner is quickly proving himself as one of England’s most highly-rated youngsters, with his contract set to expire in less than 18-months time, there could be some concerns among fans that the side could lose a talented youth product.
However, addressing speculation surrounding Garner’s long-term future, Beck was quick to reveal just how much the 20-year-old loves United and even believes a new deal could soon be on the horizon.
“I think, certainly after the loan spell, I would be expecting a conversation with them [Man United],” Beck revealed. “I wouldn’t feel overly comfortable him doing what he’s done this season, then going into his final year on loan somewhere. I sure they won’t anyway – it’d be madness.
“But if you’re asking me in an ideal world what I would like, if he could play some games next year [for Man United], that’d be brilliant for him, but if he can’t, maybe sign a new deal and then go out on loan and play at a Premier League club.
“There was a permanent interest for him from a club in the Premier League last window which both parties quickly dismissed. When I say both parties, I mean James didn’t entertain it and Man United quickly dismissed it and said it won’t happen.
“So yes – James wants to play, he loves the club, he’s been there for years. […] He thinks that he can be a Man United player in the future, whether that’s next season, might be a little bit of a push, but by the time he’s 22, you never know – he could be good enough. […] I don’t know Man United’s recruitment plans are but I would be disappointed if they were bringing someone in that position because I think James could be the future.”