Manchester United sign Espanyol wonderkid Arnau Puigmal in first transfer of the summer

United are determined to close the gap to Manchester City's academy and the signing of Puigmal is hoped to be the first step towards that

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The Independent Football

Manchester United have secured their first signing of the summer after a deal was agreed to take Espanyol midfielder Arnau Puigmal to Old Trafford once the transfer window opens.

Reports in Spain have claimed that a deal for the 16-year-old has been agreed, with Puigmal set to swap Espanyol’s Cadete A for the United academy, with his current reputation ranking him as one of the brightest talents in Spanish football.

According to Spanish newspaper Sport, United have already reached an agreement with Puigmal that involves a lucrative contract and as well as a plan for him to develop into a first-team player in the future at United, with the club moving early in the year in an effort to close the gap that has opened up between their academy and the state-of-the-art complex at rivals Manchester City.

Although City’s academy transfer ban only includes players from other English league clubs, United will feel they have stolen a march on their rivals by securing Puigmal’s signature, with a deal set to be confirmed by the club in the next few weeks.

Puigmal’s exit is a blow for Espanyol, who hoped he would develop with the La Liga side and break into their first team at a relatively young age, having been with the club’s academy since 2010 after joining from Sant Cugat, located to the north-west of Barcelona.

The central midfielder boasts a strong physicality to his game and is capable of getting himself on the scoresheet, having found the back of the net in the Mediterranean International Cup final against Barcelona, winning the accolade of Most Valuable Player at the tournament in the process.

United are planning a busy transfer window not just in the academy but also in the first-team squad, with Jose Mourinho facing the prospect of losing goalkeeper David De Gea, should Real Madrid come calling once again as is expected. Atletico’s Jan Oblak has already been sounded out as a potential option, while United also have interest in Italy, while the club are looking at defensive and attacking options with the likes of Michael Keane and Kylian Mbappe linked with potenational moves.