Speed merchant who was ‘fastest player at Man Utd’ linked to League One side

Sheffield Wednesday are eyeing up a deal for Deji Sotona – a teenage striker once labelled the fastest player at Manchester United.

The former Republic of Ireland youth international was signed by the Red Devils as a 13-year-old back in 2016 having caught the eye while playing with Mullingar Athletic in his native Ireland. Back then, the forward had picked up several regional and national sprinting medals, including an all-Ireland bronze in 2013.

Sotona, who also attracted interest from Manchester City as a youngster, spent four seasons with United, before departing on a free transfer in 2020 having snubbed a three-year contract offer from the club. But during his time with the Red Devils, the speedy Sotona made quite the name for himself.

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In 2019, the striker emerged as the fastest player at United, outpacing the likes of Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford and Dan James. Sotona is said to have clocked a top speed of a staggering 22.9mph – a full 1.2mph faster than next-fastest Dalot.

Upon departing United and amid interest from top teams across Europe, the lightning-fast forward received a call from Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, who convinced Sotona to join him at French side Nice. Vieira was subsequently sacked in December 2020, while the ex-United starlet then found game-time hard to come by, leading to a return to English football with Brentford last season.

Having seen that loan deal draw to its conclusion at the end of the campaign just gone, the 19-year-old is currently back at Nice, but he remains on the radar of several English sides. According to the Sheffield Star, Sotona is being considered by Sheffield Wednesday this summer, though they face competition from fellow League One side Derby County for his signature.

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Upon joining Brentford on loan last season, the striker revealed he hoped the move would be a stepping stone to a return to English football, while admitting the Bees demanded he do a lot more running than United did. Sotona told The Athletic: “There is a lot more running and it is more intense.

“At United, you get more time on the ball in training but here everyone is ‘at it’, and it’s much better. You get so used to someone pressing you in those tight spaces that, in a game, you will get out of those situations. This is an opportunity to get back to England and prove myself.”

Sotona also cited iconic Dutch winger Arjen Robben as his inspiration growing up. He added: “I always used to watch Robben and I want to play like that. But Man United always wanted me on the left to get crosses in or to cut in and shoot. Back then, I couldn’t use my right foot as much as I do now, though! It’s not where I want it to be, but I’ve been working on it a lot.”


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