Paul Scholes: Manchester United face losing youth talent to City

Paul Scholes has said Manchester United face the prospect of losing the best local talent to their rivals after Manchester City opened a state-of-the-art academy this week.

Scholes, 40, was a member of the famous crop of youth talent that came through the United academy in the early 1990s, along with the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Gary Neville.

Giggs had initially belonged to the City youth ranks before being persuaded to join United, but Scholes said in his column for The Independent that youngsters may now be more inclined to pursue a career at the Etihad Stadium.

"When I was a kid, it was the case among the lads I played football with that if Manchester United wanted to sign you then joining Manchester City was not even a consideration," he wrote.

"United did not have to persuade or offer inducements. We would have walked there ourselves.

"Thirty years on, and the picture in Manchester is very different and, as a United fan, it worries me. Trying to look at it from a neutral perspective, I have to say that what City have achieved is impressive and their impact on the youth scene in Manchester began long before the opening of their City Football Academy this week, an event which seems to have generated more publicity in some quarters than the arrival of Christmas itself."

It emerged earlier this year that Robin van Persie and Phil Neville's sons were training at City, while England under-19 striker Devante Cole, the son of former United star Andy, is on the Premier League champions' books.

"It has been no secret among people I know in football that City have taken great strides in their youth academy programmes, to the extent that there are even United players past and present who have, or at least once had, sons at City's academy," Scholes added.

"That will be difficult for a lot of United fans to get their heads around. I guess when it comes to a parent wanting the right thing for their child, it takes precedence over even the deepest loyalties."

He added: "The buzz in Manchester is that it is City now who have the better academy programme; that it is City who are getting the better players in the local area."

United's first-team squad contains a number of youth-team graduates such as Darren Fletcher, Rafael, Jonny Evans and Adnan Januzaj, while Louis van Gaal has introduced several more this season.

"United have a fantastic history of producing players and there will always be boys who will want to come to the club," Scholes said. "The issue is whether they are good enough for the first team.

"Some of the current lads who have been promoted, such as Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett, have benefited from an injury crisis, but will they be there in the long term? James Wilson clearly has a chance of making the grade.

"The bigger picture is how City have upped the stakes with their new academy and training complex. United's Carrington base is a great training ground and academy, but City have just taken theirs to another level. These things matter now.

"In the modern era, United, with their history of being the greatest talent producer, have to watch that they do not become second choice in their own city."