Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay has admitted it will be hard to keep young forward George Hirst at the club beyond this summer, with Manchester United interested in signing the striker.
The England under-21 international is considered one of the most exciting prospects in the Championship and has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs. Speaking about the player to BBC Radio Sheffield (h/t PA Sport, via Sky Sports), Luhukay said United were in the hunt for his signature.
“It’s a decision George will have to make himself,” said the Owls boss. “I think it’s really difficult when a club as big as Manchester United has an interest in him to say no. George must decide how he sees his future and I respect that. A good decision or not a good decision, I cannot answer that.”
As noted by PA Sport, the likes of Everton and Leicester City are also said to be admirers of the 19-year-old.
Hirst is set to be available for nothing in the summer, as the youngster is out of contract at the end of the season having rejected a contract offer from Wednesday. George is the son of David Hirst, a legend at Hillsborough, having played for the club 294 times, scoring 106 goals.
Football author Alan Biggs commented on the recent speculation linking the young striker with a switch to Old Trafford:
Alan Biggs @AlanBiggs1
George Hirst & alleged Manchester United interest?
You always wonder about the source of such speculation. All I could say is where I don’t think it came from – the player’s camp.
But bound to be more of this. Part of intrigue surrounding young #swfc striker.
It was reported by Neil Moxley of the Sunday People (h/t the Sunday Mirror) that United were leading the race to secure the player ahead of Leicester.
As noted by Moxley, given his reluctance to sign a new contract with the Sheffield club, Hirst has not been considered for the first team at Wednesday this season. He has only made one senior appearance for the club, which came in the 2016-17 season.
Hirst did showcase his potential at the Toulon tournament last summer, though, as he helped England under-20s win the competition and netted four goals in the process.
Luhukay confirmed last month that a contract offer is on the table for Hirst to sign with Wednesday should he change his mind, per Rob Staton of BBC Radio Sheffield:
Rob Staton @robstaton
Fernando Forestieri will be in the #SWFC squad for the Preston game. Kieran Lee, Sean Clare & Ross Wallace out for the season. Hooper seeing a specialist today in London. Jos Luhukay also says contract situation with Clare & Hirst up to the players. “They can sign any day”.
The temptation to sign for a club like United would be understandable for Hirst, even if it means walking away from his boyhood team for nothing. The Red Devils would be delighted to pick up an exciting prospect for no transfer fee in the summer.
Still, the move would carry some significant risk, as Hirst is at a point in his career where regular senior football is important for his development, and that’s been scarce at Hillsborough during this campaign. It’s difficult to see him getting much more time on the field at Old Trafford.
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