Football Whispers takes an in-depth look at the teen sensation snapped-up from Ajax by Jose Mourinho
WHILE Manchester United’s £75m swoop for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku stole the headlines, the Red Devils have quietly gone about building for the longer term by signing Dutch prospect Millen Baars.
The 16-year-old was linked with a move to Old Trafford as far back as October but announced, via his Instagram, he had joined the Premier League giants this week.
Baars is unlikely to see any first-team involvement under Jose Mourinho for a while but he’s a talent worth getting excited about. Our friends at Football Whispers profile the winger.
Who is Millen Baars and where does he come from?
Manchester United have developed something of a knack for signing players from the Netherlands in recent years.
Utility man Daley Blind traded Ajax for Old Trafford in 2014 while Timothy Fosu-Mensah also moved from the Amsterdam club and is expected to become an important player for United.
Another bright prospect is striker Tahith Chong who started out with Feyenoord before moving to England in July last year.
However, Beverwijk-born wideman Baars could be the most exciting player of the lot. And if he enjoys similar success to countrymen Jaap Stam, Edwin van der Sar and Robin van Persie at Old Trafford he will have had a stellar Red Devils career.
Unsurprisingly, Baars was spotted by a Dutch scout, Marcel Bout who followed Louis van Gaal to Old Trafford in 2016.
Although Mourinho cleared out his predecessor’s backroom staff upon his appointment, Bout was the only member of van Gaal’s team to remain under the Portuguese.
Baars became available last summer when, despite showing plenty of promise at Ajax, he fell out with the club’s coaching staff.
There was interest from across Europe in the precocious winger who boasts a good range of passing and enjoys cutting in from the left-hand flank.
“There was interest from Italy, Portugal and England, but when he visited Chelsea and United to look around, he knew he wanted to play in Manchester. He did not even see Arsenal, his choice was made,” his father, Stefan, told Noordhollands Dagblad.
“We have had talks with Ajax that were between Millen and the club,” he continued. “But it was certainly nothing shocking, he was even appointed captain this season of the B1.
“Ajax is a great club with a very good youth set-up, but they can unfortunately not cope so very well. You saw in the past with other youth players who now play at other clubs. But Millen was ready for a different challenge.
“He played nine seasons in Amsterdam and he has always had the dream to play football in England.”
What are his strengths?
Baars is a left-footed winger who is comfortable playing anywhere behind the main forward or deeper in central midfield.
He is not especially quick but his technical ability and intelligence makes up for a lack of pace.
He likes to cut inside from the left and link the play with his team-mates. But he is also capable of getting his head down, taking players on and putting dangerous balls into the penalty area.
Impressively, he was captain of Ajax’s second string at just 16, suggesting he is also a leader despite his youth.
Will he play next season?
Yes, but only for Kieran McKenna’s Under-18s. Mourinho is not known for his promotion of young players and at just 16 first-team involvement is unlikely at this stage.
Baars has been signed with an eye on the future and he will be allowed to get used to English football while developing his game in Manchester United’s academy where former player Nicky Butt is head of coaching.
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