A budding young footballer tipped as 'the next John Stones' has turned down the chance to join Manchester United – to stay at Barnsley.
James Bree, 15, spent three weeks at Old Trafford after United were prepared to pay 'substantial' cash for him which Barnsley would have been forced to accept under new regulations.
But Bree – a versatile defender who can also play in midfield – has rejected United's offer, believing he has a better chance of playing first team football at Oakwell.
He said: "I've been at Barnsley for four seasons now and love it here. I feel at home and believe it's the right place for me to develop.
"The facilities at Manchester United were out of this world. I saw some of the current players driving away from training in their cars, as well as Paul Scholes who came to pick up his son.”
Barnsley Academy director Ronnie Branson told the Chronicle: “We would have got substantial money but we’re delighted James is staying.
“When the big boys come knocking there’s nothing we can do other than hope the players want to stay. It’s our job to create a positive learning environment so that when arguably the biggest club in the world comes sniffing the players will want to remain here.
“James is similar to John Stones. He’s looked at what we’ve done with the likes of Stonesy and Jacob Butterfield and realised that this is the place for him.”
Man Utd have made a similar offer to a 13-year-old in Barnsley’s Academy. The club refused to reveal his name but said the player is still undecided about his future.