Date:17th June 2011 at 12:10pm
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With United constantly being linked with the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Samir Nasri and Luka Modric this summer in the hopes of bolstering their squad for next season, it’s easy to forget the players coming back to the club after loan spells, that will have to fight for a place next season.

One of the players that falls into this category is Federico Macheda. It’s been over two years since the Italian youngster burst onto the scene and scored an injury-time winner against Aston Villa on his debut, yet the fanfare surrounding the Italian prodigy seems to have died down since then.

After a sub-par loan spell at Sampdoria, where he failed to score in 14 Serie A games, Macheda’s career at Old Trafford seems to be at a crossroads. There’s no doubting his talent and potential, but with so many players ahead of him in the pecking order, would another loan move benefit the youngster?

Macheda’s agent has recently stated that the Italian striker will be staying at Old Trafford this summer, and refuted claims that Kiko is set to return to Sampdoria to help them win promotion to Serie A.

After his spectacular debut and a goal the following week against Sunderland two years ago, many would have predicted that Macheda would be fulfilling the role for United that Javier Hernandez is currently performing so well: scoring goals and forming a deadly partnership with Wayne Rooney.

Instead, Kiko hasn’t really progressed as much as many people thought he would. First team chances have been few and far between, and during a disappointing spell in Serie A, Macheda struggled to deliver.

In my opinion, the Villa goal has become a proverbial monkey on his back and Macheda has struggled to live up to the intense pressure thrust on him at that time. He was a 17 year old that came from nowhere to score on his debut and followed it up with another important goal the following week against Sunderland. Macheda was suddenly hyped up to be United’s next great talent that could waltz into the first team straight away, when to be honest he wasn’t ready for it.

It’s important to remember that Macheda is only 19, and has got plenty of time to develop his game and break into the first team.

But first-team opportunities for Macheda next season are likely to be at a premium. With the emergence of Chicharito last season and his partnership with Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen ahead of him in the pecking order, plus the return of Mame Diouf and Danny Welbeck from loan, Macheda is, at best, fifth choice striker for United next season and will likely be limited to the Carling Cup and the odd FA Cup game, unless injuries strike and he can get an extended run of games.

As United cannot guarantee Macheda a first-team place, why not follow the same practice that worked so well with Tom Cleverley at Wigan and Danny Welbeck at Sunderland last season and loan the Italian out to a Premiership club?

Macheda could develop his game, hone his skills and get not just first-team experience, but Premiership experience, with a newly-promoted side like Norwich or Swansea, or a team like Wolves, Wigan or West Brom. Macheda could spend a season on loan and come back to United a better player with more confidence and more experience, just like Cleverley and Welbeck before him.

What do you think – is Macheda set to make a big impact for United next season or would a loan move be a better alternative?

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