Juan Mata has tipped reported Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers target James Garner to become the next Manchester United academy success, Manutd.com report.
The midfielder was heavily tracked during the summer transfer window.
According to Lancashire Live, both Wednesday and Blackburn submitted bids for him while Huddersfield Town and Coventry City were also keen on him.
A deal to either club, however, failed to materialise as Garner ended up joining the Owls’ Championship rivals Watford on loan until the end of the season.
Speaking to Manutd.com, Juan Mata has high hopes for the 19-year-old.
I always thought he is one of the players who, if he keeps going and keeps improving, in the way he was doing in the Academy, he can be a very, very good midfielder. I really like him; the way he plays on the ball, his cleverness, his way of looking forward, looking for a pass and also his attitude off the ball. So, whenever he was here, I always tried to encourage him and said what I believed he could be as a player. I wish him all the best at Watford and I am sure he will do well.
Lancashire Live claimed Blackburn were confident of a deal as Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plotted a loan move to aid his development.
Wednesday, meanwhile, were listed as long-term admirers of Garner.
The Owls are not short of options in central midfield, with Barry Bannan, Massimo Luongo, Izzy Brown, Fisayo, Joey Pelupessy and youngster Alex Hunt among those vying for places.
But Garner arguably would have been an improvement in that department. He has made ten league appearances for Watford so far as the Hornets sit in the top six.
New Owls manager Tony Pulis has already suggested he will make moves in January, but it seems a new wide player and striker are current priorities at Hillsborough.