Forget Paul Pogba, another technically-gifted product of the youth set-up is back at Manchester United after winning the title at Juventus.
Two years after the France international returned to the north-west, Katie Zelem followed suit by swapping Serie A for the Women’s Championship and a return to her roots.
Up until five years ago the Oldham-born midfielder was part of United’s Centre of Excellence, but talk of a senior women’s team at that time failed to come to fruition and left the pathway blocked.
Zelem headed to Liverpool and won the Women’s Super League, before making the move to Italy last season as newly-formed Juventus won the title.
The 22-year-old loved life in Serie A but was keeping a close eye on developments at home after United announced plans to create a team that she jumped at the chance to join.
“It’s been extraordinary, to be honest,” Zelem told Press Association Sport.
“At Juventus, that’s a huge club too and when I went over there they gave everything to the women’s side and then I thought, to be honest, not much can top that.
“But Man United have proved me wrong, they’ve given us everything and we’ve trained at Carrington.
“We’ve got all the staff, we’ve got all the facilities, we’re playing in Leigh, we couldn’t ask for much more, to be honest.”
Those keeping an eye on the women’s team could not have asked for much more either.
Casey Stoney’s Reds opened their first campaign as a professional team by winning 1-0 at Liverpool in the Continental League Cup, before laying down quite the marker in the league.
United’s Championship opener resulted in an eye-catching 12-0 win at Aston Villa, with a 3-0 home triumph against Sheffield United and 5-0 victory at London Bees following.
“I think there’s a lot of external expectation, but from inside we know what we’re capable of and we’re just trying to achieve our potential really,” Zelem said ahead of Durham’s arrival at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday.
FT: Aston Villa 0 #MUWomen12— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) September 9, 2018
United secure their first 3 points of the season with an outstanding victory to kick off the campaign in style. Goals from @jessSigsworth5 (5), @laurenjamess22 (2), @KirstyHanson3 (2), @katiezel, @mollie_green97 and @ellatoone99! #MUWomen pic.twitter.com/AfFPoDI1MZ
“I think the 12-0 hasn’t helped really but being Manchester United anyway everyone wants to beat you.
“Especially with us coming into the second division, I think that there’s a lot of press and coverage around that.
“But we can’t control that so we just play how we do and hopefully the run can continue.”
Over the moon to announce that Iâve signed for Manchester United.— Katie Zelem (@katiezel) July 13, 2018
Returning back to the club where it all started for me was a huge opportunity I couldnât turn down. Iâm excited to be back where I belong and continue on the journey I had to leave many years ago🔴🌟 #MUWomen pic.twitter.com/Yr2t8cVm88
Zelem is loving life back at United and working under Stoney, who has United playing incisive, attacking football that Jose Mourinho might want to take a look at.
The seamless way the team have bonded has undoubtedly helped, with the 22-year-old admitting it would be a bit of a shock if United did not go up given the players at their disposal.
Expectation of success comes with wearing the United badge, but Zelem wants more than silverware given she can be an inspiration to young girls in the area.
“I’ve been there and there’s not been this when I was younger,” Zelem added.
“So, for me to just say hello and sign a programme means a lot to them, more than you can imagine.
“Hopefully that inspires them to be like us one day.”