Luke Littler sent Manchester United outcast Donny van de Beek a one-word message after meeting at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday. Littler, a boyhood United supporter, has sky-rocketed to fame during his incredible run to the World Darts Championship last 16 this month.
The 16-year-old prodigy became the youngest player to reach the last 16 of the competition by beating Canadian Matt Campbell 4-1 at Ally Pally, earning £35,000 in the process.
He will face Raymond van Barneveld or Jim Williams for a place in the quarter-finals, with clashes with Gerwyn Price, defending world champion Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen potentially on the horizon.
Van de Beek enjoyed Littler’s performance on Wednesday, with fellow Dutchman Van Gerwen and Smith also in action.
And Littler shared an image of the pair together backstage, captioning the friendly snap “legend” as a compliment for the forgotten United star.
Van de Beek was enjoying ‘The Nuke’ doing his thing on the Ally Pally stage as he prepares to leave England next month.
The 26-year-old midfield is set to join Eintracht Frankfurt on loan when the January transfer window opens, having already completed his medical at the Bundesliga club.
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Frankfurt will reportedly have the option to make Van de Beek’s move permanent for £13million next summer, which would spell the end of his disastrous Premier League career.
The former Netherlands international has featured in Ten Hag’s last seven Premier League squads due to relentless injury issues but has played just 21 minutes of football all season.
He last started a competitive match for United against AFC Bournemouth in January, during which he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
And he likely won’t play for the Red Devils again beyond 2023, even if Frankfurt opt against making his switch permanent.
He’ll be delighted with the opportunity to play more football, though, and it could also be a very happy New Year for Littler if he continues his dream World Darts Championship run.
Ahead of his last-16 clash, the teenager revealed he had received tickets to tour Old Trafford next year and joked he would show Erik ten Hag how to win a trophy.
He said: “I got stuff for my Xbox, a controller, gift cards. Two tickets for the Manchester United stadium tour, so I will go to that after the Worlds. Hopefully, I’ll show them how to win one [a trophy].”
Littler added that he enjoyed United’s thrilling Boxing Day comeback against Aston Villa. But whether the victory gave him as much joy as his recent Ally Pally exploits is unlikely.