Who is Sean Goss? We profile Manchester United youngster in squad to face Wolfsburg
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 09/12/15 7:21am
Sean Goss was named in Manchester United's squad for the Champions League trip toWolfsburg.
But just who is the youngster and what are the qualities that have prompted Louis van Gaal to look at him as a potential first-team player?
We profile a midfielder who has been tipped as the next Michael Carrick by those in the know at Old Trafford...
Place of birth: Wegberg, Germany
Clubs: Exeter City, Manchester United
Position: Central midfield
Goss was born in Germany on October 1, 1995 but moved to England at the age of eight when he was offered the chance to join Exeter City. He spent eight years at Exeter, but is a lifelong Manchester United supporter and has posted pictures of himself on social media wearing replica shirts as a youngster.
Aged nine, Goss was selected to be a mascot for United's third-round FA Cup clash with Exeter at Old Trafford in January 2005; a game which ended 0-0 despite the second-half introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes.
He would get the chance to return to Manchester in a playing capacity during the 2011/12 season when he was offered trials at United's training complex, seizing his opportunity with a goal and an assist in his very first practice match.
United's U17 boss Paul McGuinness invited him to play as a guest player in the Aegon Future Cup in Amsterdam in April 2012 and Goss would feature in the final against Ajax, missing the crucial spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out. Nevertheless, he earned praise from his coach and a few months later would be offered a move.
Goss signed from Exeter for an undisclosed fee on July 11, 2012, but picked up an injury and missed eight months of the 2012/13 season. After regaining fitness, he impressed during the 2013/14 campaign scoring six goals and earning the chance to train with the first team mid-way through the season.
He was given a taste of European football under Nicky Butt in the UEFA Youth League and then moved on to play for Manchester United's U21's. Despite missing three months of the 2014/15 campaign through injury, he caught the eye of Louis van Gaal as his side won the U21 title.
United's first-team boss made the surprise decision to take Goss on the club's tour of the USA last summer and he made his first-team debut in a 2-0 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain, coming on as an 81st-minute replacement for Carrick.
He wore the number 45 shirt that day - the first-team squad number he has been given by Van Gaal for the Premier League - and had it signed by the rest of the first-team squad. However, he was not expected to feature for the first team until he was named on the bench for the 2-1 Premier League win over Watford in November.
Strengths and style of play
The player Goss has been compared to most often is the midfielder he replaced against PSG in July; Michael Carrick - and the youngster is not shy in expressing his admiration for the England international.
"He is one of my favourite players in the first team and I do look up to him," Goss said." I want to play like him as well, spreading passes, keeping the ball and trying to read the play, while getting on the ball as much as I can."
United's official website describes him as "a neat and skilful performer", but in his early days at Exeter he was known for his ability in front of goal, scoring 13 times for their Centre of Excellence side in his final season.
However, goals have dried up in more recent seasons. In 2013/14 he scored six times in 27 U18 matches and last term he only scored once for the Under-21's - a goal away at Leicester in April that was assisted by Robin van Persie.
He has admitted he wants to add more goals to his game, but his shooting captured attention last month when he curled home a fantastic 90th-minute winner from 20 yards following a Marouane Fellaini assist against Liverpool U21's.
He was named by McGuinness on a three-man shortlist for the Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year award in 2013/14, earning praise for his passing ability, but being beaten to the prize by forward James Wilson.
As he has climbed through the ranks he has been asked to take on more defensive duties, being played at right-back when he first broke into Butt's U19 set-up and also playing in an unfamiliar left-back role in a freezing cold UEFA Youth League game against Shakhtar Donetsk.
What he says
"I always used to lack [the defensive side] because I just liked getting on the ball but now I have got to the age where I have to do the uglier side too. There is no hiding place and Warren Joyce has improved me a lot. I've worked really hard and it just comes naturally to me now.
"I've been a United fan my whole life and wanted to play for them, even when I was at Exeter. I never thought it would actually happen so, when the opportunity came along, I just couldn't turn it down."
What they say
"Goss is a really elegant footballer, with a lovely left foot, who can play terrific football. We expect both of them [he and fellow youngster Josh Harrop] to go on and have really good careers." Manchester United Academy coach Paul McGuinness
"He's a dependable lad and has got it all sorted when the ball comes to him with his pass selection. His technique is good and he's worked really hard. He had an opportunity to train with the manager and he must have done something to catch the eye." Manchester United Under-21s coach Warren Joyce
"I love to see the young lads getting a chance and the opportunity for Sean to come away on tour was probably a bonus for him in many ways. To come away and train is great for him and will probably make him even more hungry." Michael Carrick.
What does the future hold?
Goss signed a four-year professional contract last summer and he is now hoping to become the ninth academy graduate to get a debut under Van Gaal. "Hopefully, if I get a chance, I can take it," he told the official Manchester United website.
However, he is not expecting to be handed many first-team chances this season with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and his hero Carrick ahead of him in the pecking order.
Speaking last April he admitted that his current goal is to impress for the Under-21's: "I just need to work hard and impress. The thing for me, at the moment, is to keep a place in the Under-21 side. I've got to continue to adapt.
"The pace of the games, coming from Exeter, was so different that it definitely took me a while to adapt physically and mentally. When I was with Exeter, I didn't really look at the defensive side as I was encouraged to get forward a lot more and arrive late in the box. Coming here has definitely made me a better player."