Man Utd eye Zimbabwe's Darikwa
A rising Zimbabwean footballer Tendayi Darikwa triggered a wave of reports in the British media yesterday that he could be on his way to Manchester United in January after manager David Moyes travelled to see him play at the weekend.
The 21-year-old Chesterfield midfielder is highly-rated and has emerged as a target for the Red Devils and Moyes was at the Highbury Stadium on Saturday to watch Darikwa play in his team's 1-1 draw at Fleetwood.
Moyes watched the progress of the midfielder while at Everton last term and the player, who was born in Nottingham and has never been to Zimbabwe, is also under the radar of Tottenham, West Ham and Fulham.
Darikwa's superb form at the start of the season has only heightened Moyes' interest in the player who is valued at £1.5m, with the Spireites top of League Two following their 1-1 draw at league rivals Fleetwood on Saturday. The club's chief executive Paul Cook is aware of the interest from Premier League clubs for the 21-year-old, and admits he doesn't know how long the club can hold on to their prized asset.
Said Cook: "Tendayi is a lad we know clubs are looking at. Will someone take him soon? That's out of my hands. But certainly as a young player there will not be many better around the country."
Darikwa is a product of the Chesterfield youth academy and has made over 50 appearances since making his debut three years ago.
In fact, not many players can jump up from England's League Two to the Premier League, but that's what could happen to Darikwa after Manchester United boss Moyes' interest in the 21-year-old Chesterfield player became public at the weekend.
Moyes was in the stands at Fleetwood to catch a closer look at Darikwa, whose notoriety grows by the game.
Here's a quick lowdown on one of the Football League's hottest young properties.
Darikwa was born in Nottingham to Zimbabwean parents and was given a chance by the Spireites after he left school at 16.
His senior debut came in an FA Cup second-round defeat to Burton Albion in 2010, when he was playing at right-back.
He has then-manager Tommy Wright to thank for an inspired positional change.
In his first league start at Northampton, Darikwa played further up the field on the wing and instantly flourished.
Wright said: "There was nothing particularly tactical about the decision. We had a few injuries and I knew he would work hard. Since then he has flourished. What has happened to him over the last six months is massive. It has got to the point where you can see other teams worrying about how to stop him."
Darikwa's eye-catching displays saw him named Football League Young Player of the Month for December last year and his stock continues to rise, with Tottenham, West Ham, Fulham, Liverpool, Everton Nottingham Forest and now Manchester United all monitoring his progress.
At 6ft 2in, Darikwa is quite tall for a winger, but like United's Wilfried Zaha, his athleticism and quick feet mean he is still a really slippery prospect for a defender. He also appears to be a diligent worker with his feet firmly on the ground and his down-to-earth character suggests he won't be easily distracted from his job. "I have got to be disciplined with my lifestyle and know my boundaries. My social life is quiet," he said.
England or Zimbabwe?
No call-ups for either country at any age level yet, but England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate could do well to have a chat with Darikwa in the likely event that Zimbabwe make a call for his services.
What the papers said
Forget Fabregas and Herrera, Moyes' next big signing at United could be £1,5m midfielder from Chesterfield
David Moyes may look to strengthen his Manchester United side with a January swoop for Chesterfield's highly-rated midfielder Tendayi Darikwa.
Should the United boss aim to follow up his interest with a January bid, it would represent a dramatic change of focus compared to his summer midfield targets.
Before the start of the season, United were knocked back by Barcelona following their interest in £30m rated Cesc Fabregas.
While a £30.5m move for Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera collapsed on transfer deadline day as the Red Devils tried to spend big in an attempt to defend their title.
They also tried to sign Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
Chesterfield midfielder Darikwa is someone whom Moyes tracked while at Everton last season and is also under the radar of Tottenham, West Ham and Fulham.
Darikwa's superb form at the start of the season has only heightened Moyes' interest in the player who is valued at £1,5m, with the Spireites top of League Two following the draw at Fleetwood.
Manchester United manager David Moyes ready to rival Everton for Chesterfield's £1m-rated Tendayi Darikwa
Manchester United manager David Moyes is ready to rival former club Everton in the chase to sign Chesterfield's highly-rated Tendayi Darikwa.
Darikwa has emerged as one of the most coveted youngsters in the lower leagues and Chesterfield's chief executive Chris Turner insists the League Two club will demand a significant transfer fee for the midfielder.
Chesterfield are expected to seek well over £1 million for Darikwa in a deal that will shatter the £750 000 they banked for Kevin Davies from Southampton in 1997.
Everton have maintained their interest since Moyes's departure to Old Trafford and Turner admitted today that bids are expected in the January transfer window.
He said: "Tendayi is attracting a lot of attention and there is no doubt in our minds that he will go on to play at a higher level.
"For a manager of Manchester United to come and watch a League Two game just shows that David has his finger on the pulse. I know when he was Everton they regularly watched Tendayi so you would assume he knows all about the best young players in the lower leagues.
"I knew David was coming to the game because I'd spoken to him before, although we didn't mention individuals. Having said that, Tendayi did have an exceptional game on Saturday so he can't have failed to notice him anyway. There are many clubs from the Premier league and Championship showing interest and while we would love to keep him we won't be standing in his way if we receive an offer that suits both parties.
"It will take far more than the fee we received for Kevin Davies, that's for sure. I don't like putting valuations on players but we have a figure in our head and obviously we have financial factors to consider."
He has established himself as a regular under manager Paul Cook and played a key role in helping take Chesterfield to the top of League Two this season.
Turner said: "He was actually on loan at Hinckley United last year and we had to recall him so he could make his league debut against Notts County -- he was man of the match in that game and has just made massive strides ever since.
"He's versatile, he can play in defence or midfield, and he's a tremendous athlete. He is going to go all the way."