Manchester United youngster Grace Clinton is on course to leave the club on loan in the January transfer window for the rest of the season in search of regular first-team football.
90min has learned that the looming possibility of a loan impacted Clinton’s non-selection for at least one Continental Cup game in December given the potential to be cup-tied in the competition.
Clinton, still only 19, has established a reputation as one of the brightest talents in the WSL in recent years, having first made a senior breakthrough at Everton.
The teenager had played 21 times for the Toffees in all competitions since 2020, before United signed her to a three-year contract until 2025 this past summer.
But a combination of injury, illness and enormous competition for places in midfield has seen Clinton yet to make her official debut in United colours. She impressed during a half-hour cameo in a pre-season victory over Paris Saint-Germain, but took an injury into the real season that set her back.
United boss Marc Skinner has now confirmed the chance of Clinton spending the rest of the season elsewhere as ‘likely’ but has stressed it will only be temporary and that her long-term future remains with the Red Devils, where only Ella Toone currently has a longer contract.
“Everybody knows how I feel about Grace,” Skinner said on Wednesday.
“Grace is definitely what we’re looking for in the future – her vision, her brain, the way I want people to play – she has it all. We’re looking at her playing consistent minutes that we can’t give her at the moment. What we asked her to do for the first six months [at United] is learn our principles and our expectations,” he went on to explain.
Skinner has previously likened Clinton’s ability to that of the aforementioned Ella Toone, capable of transforming a game in a moment with a piece of magic, with whom she is competing for a place alongside the likes of established international Vilde Boe Risa.
The boss admires the youngster’s level of maturity, but a big thing has been taking the time to ensure she is ready physically – the club often exercises strong caution with players returning from injury as seen with the likes of Alessia Russo and Millie Turner over the last 18 months. Skinner has also stressed the importance of getting her tuned into the key principles of how he wants to play.
As recently as early December, Skinner referred to Clinton as ‘the future of what we’re trying to do’.