There have been rumblings about the 20-year-old, Mason Greenwood’s inflated ego at Old Trafford
For a young man still in the early stages of what should be a hugely promising career, Greenwood has attracted more than his fair share of negative publicity.
Even taking into account the fact that he plays for one of the world’s biggest football clubs and is subjected to intense scrutiny on and off the pitch, the 20-year-old prodigy from Yorkshire has found himself in the news for the wrong reasons rather more often than he would like.
From being sent home in disgrace from Iceland after making his England debut to concerns over his attitude at United, Greenwood’s path has not been a smooth one since he made his senior debut as a late substitute in the memorable Champions League comeback against PSG nearly three years ago.
It was the first of 129 appearances for United so far which have brought 35 goals and huge expectation.
Greenwood, we keep being told, is the best natural finisher at the club and a forward of great potential.
In a list of the most valuable players in Europe’s top five leagues, published earlier this month by CIES Football Observatory, he is ranked fourth at £133.9million. Other industry estimates are closer to £90m.
Either way, Greenwood’s camp. It is understood that in talks with Nike recently, the prospect of switching to a rival sponsor was raised unless Greenwood is given parity with other top players. There have been concerns about his ego at United for some time, even before he signed a new £75,000-a-week contract last year.
While insiders describe a rather quiet young man who keeps himself to himself around the training ground, Greenwood does not seem to be lacking in confidence.
His uneasy relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch has been noted since the five-time Ballon d’Or winner returned to Old Trafford in the summer.
Indeed, when the Portuguese spoke in an interview earlier this month about young players being reluctant to take advice, some people jumped to the conclusion he was referring to Greenwood.
Previously, United had reason to speak to the youngster about his attitude around the training ground and in particular over his time-keeping, amid speculation it was the reason for his absence from another Champions League tie against PSG in October 2020.
During lockdown, there were reports he was hosting parties at a rented property and that neighbors had complained about the noise.
Then there is the curious situation surrounding Greenwood’s international career.
It could not have got off to a worse start when he and Manchester City’s Phil Foden were sent home from Iceland by Gareth Southgate for inviting two girls into England’s team hotel after making their senior debuts in Reykjavik.
The breach of Covid quarantine rules earned them both a police fine of £1,360, but could have had far more serious consequences for England’s next game against Denmark.
Greenwood issued an apology for the ‘huge mistake’, adding that playing for England was ‘one of the proudest moments in my life’.
While Foden has gone on to play another 12 times for England, Greenwood has not represented his country since and remains eligible for Jamaica.
He withdrew from England’s squad for Euro 2020 to recover from an underlying injury, according to his club, but has remained absent following talks with Southgate, his family and former United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in August.
It is understood Greenwood’s message to the England manager was he would rather not be picked if he was not going to play — another worrying sign that his ego was becoming a problem, given that he was still a teenager at the time.
However, none of the issues in his short career can compare to the serious allegations made against Greenwood on Sunday.
United confirmed he will not train or play until further notice, only right while Greater Manchester Police carry out their investigation. The club finds itself in an awful situation.
Quite how this plays out remains to be seen. But the consequences for a career that has promised so much are potentially devastating.