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United once had a very healthy partnership with Royal Antwerp FC. Players such as Darron Gibson, John O’Shea, Fraizer Campbell, Jonny Evans, Danny Simspon and Ryan Shawcross all spent time there on loan. Until last season though the partnership had gone unused for a few years – Antwerp had become less competitive and United had sought domestic loans primarily. John Cofie then spent the back end of last season there and now this year, two more players are to join the Belgian club on loan.
Luke Giverin and Gyliano van Velzen are to join Royal Antwerp for the season according to an announcement on the club’s website. It translates to read that both will shortly travel over to form part of the first team squad for Antwerp in the coming season. On the English version of the club’s website, both players have been profiled ahead of the move.
They become the 32nd and 33rd players to join the Belgian Second Division side on loan from United. The partnership first came into use in the 1998/99 season when Ronnie Wallwork, Danny Higginbotham and Jamie Wood spent time there. It’s been a fruitful relationship with many of the players loaned there going on to make United debuts before often having a good career in the football leagues.
John Cofie went there at the end of last season and benefited from regular football that he wasn’t getting in the Reserves at the time. Neither Luke nor Gyliano are stand-out players in the U21s this season so this move could be to ensure they both do get regular weekly football.
Luke, naturally a left back, recently signed a new one year deal. Having always been small and only recently full time at the club, opportunities haven’t always come for him but hard work is paying off. He was with the first team at the end of last season for Harry Gregg’s testimonial and then scored in the Manchester Senior Cup final. This year he’s often started in front of the back four and sometimes captained the U21s. It’ll be a good test for him against bigger, stronger men.
For Gyliano, the move could be very important. He, along with Robbie Brady, are the only natural wingers in the U21s and with a system that’s moving away from natural wide men, he may not have played as much as he’d hoped. Having been hyped up when he signed, Gyliano has at times struggled despite being part of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 2010/11. Last season he seemed to improve a lot, both in goal scoring and assisting. As he reaches an age where he’ll start to broaden and become stronger, this could be a good opportunity for him to take his game up to another level.
Certainly both players should relish weekly competitive football. At United there are a lot of talented younger players who’ll be pushing both Gyliano and Luke for places and therefore neither may have played as much as they’d liked or their development needs this coming season. Expect a few more youngsters to leave on loan, probably domestically, as a few U18s will be pushed into the U21s because of numbers in both age groups.