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United moved fast to sign Powell

Manchester United had to move quickly to stave off competition from other clubs and sign Crewe's highly-rated midfielder Nick Powell, Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed.

Powell caught the eye with a series of fine performances as Crewe reached the League Two play-offs, scoring a dazzling volley in the final as they beat Cheltenham 2-0 to secure promotion.

United formally completed the deal to sign the 18-year-old on July 1, but Ferguson said the club had put the formalities in place earlier amid growing interest in him.

"We thought that, if we waited until the play-offs, the secret would be out, so to speak. All the TV cameras would be focused on him and it might alert a few other clubs," he told United's official website.

"Mind you, there were already quite a few interested. As well as Arsenal and Chelsea, we knew Manchester City were keeping tabs on him, so I phoned [Crewe director of football] Dario Gradi, told him we were keen, and we started negotiating.

"We sorted the deal with the chairman and agreed we'd leave it until after the play-off finals. It was all in place a good 10 days beforehand.

"Nick's agent told Nick after the match, and then he came up to my house the next day and we got the deal done.''

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