Everton defender Mason Holgate has opened up on why a trial with Manchester United before his move to the Toffees did not work out.
The centre-back has been in fantastic form this season, becoming one of the first names on Carlo Ancelotti’s teamsheet, but the 23-year-old has revealed how things could have been all so different.
In an Instagram Live interview on New Era Global Sports’s page, Holgate said: “Yeah I went [to Man United] for a week, then I got injured and went back to Barnsley. It was in pre-season, the first team was away and I was just with the under-23s
“At the time, I wanted to go somewhere and feel like part of a first team. I felt like if I tried to go to one of the bigger clubs I would have been back into a U23s setup, which isn’t what I wanted.
“I’d just played 20 games in League One at 18 years old, which obviously as a defender is good. So I felt like it would have been a step backwards to go to 23s football.
“I wanted to feel like I was going in to, not starting every week, but being in a first-team setup.”
A move to Everton eventually materialised, but Holgate admitted it was not an easy switch for a 18-year-old player to make.
He added: “I think Everton is a huge, huge club and I couldn’t turn it down – especially when you’d seen people walk the same pathway as me. John Stones, Brendan Galloway – people signed from lower league teams were getting chances.
“It’s something I definitely wanted to be involved in straight away.
“I basically knew from the season before that I had to go, it was something I’d got my head around but no matter how much you think about it when you’re 18 – moving away, doing a medical and then moving straight away, it was something I found a bit difficult.
“Now I love it and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. A lot of people my age were going to uni, so I think my mum and dad tried to sell it to me like that, but it’s not really like that.
“Your friends who go to uni still live with people, whereas I was out on my own. I didn’t know how to turn a washing machine on, make food or anything! The first few months are a massive shock.
“But I think that’s where Everton are class. That’s why there’s a path through for people, the club makes you feel at home.
“Even though it was difficult at times being on my own, the club would make me feel a lot more comfortable, so I didn’t feel like I’d moved from one environment into another.”