Josh Harrop: The Unconventional Journey of a Former United Talent
Josh Harrop, a once-promising Manchester United youngster who turned down a contract offer during the Jose Mourinho era, now finds himself unemployed at the age of 27.
Back in 2017, Harrop seemed to be on the cusp of a stellar career when he made a memorable debut for Manchester United, scoring against Crystal Palace. This achievement was the culmination of his impressive journey through the United academy ranks.
His big moment came on the final day of the season when he seized the opportunity, connecting with a Paul Pogba pass to net a goal in a 2-0 victory.
However, just weeks later, he made a bold decision to decline a new contract with United in pursuit of regular first-team football. He chose to sign with Championship side Preston North End, where he went on to make 95 appearances, scoring 13 goals, but his progress was hindered by injuries.
An ACL injury sidelined him for the majority of the 2018-19 season, but upon his return in the following campaign, he managed to score eight goals in various competitions and earned a new three-year deal. Regrettably, he wouldn’t see it through.
Falling out of favor at Deepdale, he was loaned to League One side Ipswich in January 2021, but struggled to make an impact, failing to score or provide an assist in 15 outings.
In the subsequent January, he moved on loan to Fleetwood Town, but his time there was short-lived, with just five appearances to his name. Eventually, he was released from his contract with Preston in September 2022.
Harrop embarked on a new chapter, training with Northampton, where he managed to secure a contract with the League Two side in December 2022.
Reflecting on his journey, he admitted, “It’s been a challenging few years, to be honest. My time at Preston had its ups and downs, with moments of promise and struggles. But that’s the nature of football; it’s a rollercoaster. I experienced a few loan spells and encountered some injuries here and there, nothing too severe, but those setbacks slowed my progress.”
He continued, “That’s why, when I left Preston, I decided to focus on my physical condition and get myself in peak form to fulfill my potential. I had conversations with my agent, and we opted not to rush into another move right away. I wanted to take some time to work on myself and minimize the risk of those nagging injuries.”
Despite his efforts, injury issues limited Harrop to just two brief substitute appearances as Northampton earned promotion to League One. The club confirmed that they wouldn’t be offering him a new deal at the end of the season.
Now, with the summer transfer window closed, the former United wonderkid, at the age of 27, finds himself without a club, reflecting on a journey filled with highs and lows.