Manchester United: £2.5m For Natahniel Clyne Is Daylight Robbery

Rarely tested by the opposition winger, good going forward and possessing a great temperament, Clyne is out of contract in the Summer and Manchester United are ready to snap him up for £2.5m to avoid a tribunal...
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Rarely tested by the opposition winger, good going forward and possessing a great temperament, Clyne is out of contract in the Summer and Manchester United are ready to snap him up for £2.5m to avoid a tribunal...

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Rarely tested by the opposition winger, good going forward and possessing a great temperament, Clyne is out of contract in the Summer and Manchester United are ready to snap him up for £2.5m to avoid a tribunal...

Having already racked up over 100 league appearances by the age of 20, won Young Player of the Year twice and 2010's Player of the Year award, Nathaniel Clyne has wasted no time in endearing himself to the Eagles' hardcore. Turning down opportunities to even talk to Wolves and Birmingham City, to stay put focused and unfazed, quickly added to his folklore amongst the Selhurst terraces. Although it'd always be a brave man who'd sit down face to face with Mick McCarthy, the human vuvuzela.

Aged 17, Clyne burst into the Palace first team under Neil Warnock and immediately cemented his right back place and a three year contract – All in the same week. Now that three year contract is due to expire at the end of this season and a familiar sequence of events are in motion for Palace fans, who've seen more starlets leave their production line than Toyota.

The likelihood of Clyne signing a new contract is minimal, as his manager Dougie Freedman revealed publicly earlier in the season: "I know he should stay and deep down Nathaniel knows he should stay but when certain representatives decide it is best for a young player to move away, it is difficult."

A gentle bit of open pressure from Freedman can do no harm for Palace's cause. He's backed Clyne and treated him no differently to other young players who've signed long-term deals with the club. Freedman knows that by signing up his surrounding peers, an example can be set without saying much at all. But for such a young player, Clyne is equally shrewd in his judgment. Rarely flustered or affected by the modern pressures of game he's kept his cards close to his chest whilst putting in consistent performances for the team. Having his feathers ruffled by Max Gradell of Leeds last season was a memorable sight, only because we've never seen it before or since. Even failing to turn up at the end of season awards to collect his Player of the Year trophy this summer coupled with his resistance to sign a new contract, it wasn't enough for the boo-boys to turn on him pre-season.

It's squeaky bum time for Dougie Freedman now then. Will Clyne stay or will he go? There's a sense amongst the Palace faithful that Clyne has earnt his right to a move

This is because when called upon, the Eagle's number 2 has always delivered. Exhibiting a level head throughout his short career, Clyne would be described by most Palace fans as plain 'solid'. In his first full season we saw a fearless Clyne who speedily meandered beyond the opposition's right winger, over the halfway line and wasn't afraid to take on his opposing full back. All this without neglecting his defensive duties, like a fun-size Lilian Thuram at times. Since then though Palace have laboured through two years of backs-to-the-wall football, perhaps suppressing his sting in the tail in the process. This has been especially true since Freedman was installed to plug George Burleys leaky outfit one year ago, and defending was made primary focus of the starting eleven.

With this in mind, whilst Clyne has matured into a no-frills right back within a struggling Palace side, how has he become so highly rated? His composed ability on the ball is undoubted, his small stature has never been to his detriment, Freedman depends on him to hold the fort at the halfway line when Palace's centre backs go forward for corners. He's reliable. But this doesn't add up to enough to be noticed by the Premiership vultures.

Something must be said then for what it means to be Crystal Palace's bright young hope of the moment. The media loves to incubate a freshly-hatched Eagle and that's exactly where Clyne has been since he emerged in 2008. Wary of what has happened to the likes of John Bostock, Wayne Routledge, Tom Soares, Ben Watson and Victor Moses before him, it's no surprise to see Clyne pondering his next career move more cautiously. You can sense a desire to hold out for a Premiership club that will convincingly continue to exist as one.

As well as being a fresh-faced and talented Eaglet, Clyne's found himself in the right place at the right time. Coupled with consistent performances and a long, visible run in the team, he's been fortuitous to have only been notably injured once, and even that worked out in his favour. After breaking down pre-season and spending September in the treatment room, Clyne's return to the side coincided with a run of clean sheets, Palace rising to third in the table, Clyne being awarded Championship Player of the Month for October and all nicely topped off with a call up to England's U21s European Qualifier squad, finally making his debut with a clean-sheeted win. Add to that the opportunity to dumbfound Alex Ferguson for 120 minutes at Old Trafford the month before the window opens and you can smell what might just happen next.

It's squeaky bum time for Dougie Freedman now then. Will Clyne stay or will he go? There's a sense amongst the Palace faithful that Clyne has earnt his right to a move. The zippy, fearless Clyne that we first saw has been a little blunted by successful relegation battle after successful relegation battle, and although he's enjoying a far less turbulent existence this season, we've known for some time that he was likely to move on at this juncture. If only Warnock had offered him a longer deal back in 2008. It's no coincidence that no sooner has the eggshell broken around Wilfried Zaha, a five year contract has been promptly signed this week.

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