Man Utd teen named 'scouse Lionel Messi' signs contract and 'only sees himself at club'

Shea Lacey has signed his first professional Man Utd contract. (Image: Getty)

Shea Lacey will reportedly sign his first professional contract at Manchester United on Monday after turning 17 at the weekend. The teenage starlet is recognised as one of English football’s brightest prospects, earning himself the nickname of the ‘scouse Lionel Messi’ among supporters wowed by his early exploits.

Lacey has caught the widespread attention of the fanbase through viral clips of great goals and silky skill while playing for United’s U18 side.

He is also an England U17 international, scoring three goals in five caps, but has endured a frustrating injury-hit season that has limited him to just nine club appearances.

Erik ten Hag offered a show of faith last week, though, when he invited Lacey to become one of the latest academy hopefuls to participate in first-team training.

It boosted excitement and anticipation for the 17-year-old attacker’s inevitable breakthrough, which has edged closer after he penned a new deal on Monday.

According to the reputable X (formerly Twitter) account @AcademyScoop, Lacey was initially expected to sign his professional contract on Sunday, his 17th birthday.

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Shea Lacey (third from right) has joined senior training. (Image: Getty)

However, he has secured the landmark moment a day later, with becoming the latest United academy graduate now firmly in his sights.

Lacey comes from a family of Liverpool fans and has been the subject of heavyweight Premier League interest throughout his meteoric rise through United’s youth set-up.

However, he supports the club and is said to only see his future at Old Trafford, which could prove to be the Red Devils’ gain and the rest of the Premier League’s pain if he realises his lofty potential.

Lacey tends to cut in from the right and is capable of rifling pinpoint strikes from range or beating his man on the inside or outside.

He can also operate centrally and on the left, and his play style has drawn similarities to Manchester City ace Phil Foden, one of the frontrunners for the 2024 Ballon d’Or.

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His nickname suggests he has also reminded spectators of Lionel Messi, widely considered the greatest player of all time and a record eight-time recipient of the award.

Now he has turned 17, Lacey could make his senior debut as early as this season, although the talented forward will more likely feature in pre-season and be eased in next term.

Alejandro Garnacho debuted at the age of 17 against Chelsea in April 2022, as did Kobbie Mainoo against Charlton Athletic in January 2023.

Lacey could be the next graduate to become a crucial part of the first-team squad within the upcoming 12 months.