Manchester United still have a wealth of exciting young players that incoming manager Erik ten Hag can work with to help turn around the club’s poor current state
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Speculation over who Manchester United might sign to kickstart the Erik ten Hag era has dominated discussion around the club recently, but there is another reason to be excited by the Dutchman’s arrival.
With United in the doldrums, and with so many players set to depart this summer, it is understandable that the focus is currently on the transfer market. United will need to recruit heavily and smartly to give Ten Hag the best chance of turning around a sinking ship.
But while United have become specialists in underwhelming since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013, they do still have some things going for them. Over the largely barren last nine years, the club’s academy has provided many bright spots for the fanbase to enjoy.
Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga are the three most prominent young stars to emerge from the club’s youth ranks in recent years. Established first-team stars struggling is obviously far from ideal, but it has tended to fast-track the promotion of youngsters.
Ten Hag has no doubt been hired for many reasons, but one of them is undoubtedly his record of working with young players. As Elanga put it this week to Sky Sports: “He has got a fantastic record in Europe and the way he has developed young players – players that I have played against in the youth team as well as in the national team. I have got kind of an idea of what he can bring to the team, and I am really excited to work with him.”
Elanga broke through under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ’s guidance and quickly won the trust of Ralf Rangnick. He has already enjoyed some highs, like scoring the equaliser at Atletico Madrid, while also enduring the side’s lows. All of it should make him well-equipped for Ten Hag’s arrival – and he is far from the only young player who should be enthused by the former Ajax manager’s arrival.
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There has been a lot of excitement at United around 19-year-old midfielder Hannibal Mejbri. He may have only made two senior appearances for United – and the most recent of those may have been in the 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool last month – but he is already a trusted international for Tunisia, for whom he has 12 caps. Ten Hag’s arrival offers him a clean slate to impress.
Garncho is the flavour of the month at United following his heroics in the Under-18s’ FA Youth Cup win. The 17-year-old forward has caught the eye by scoring 15 goals and contributing six goals this season and, with the backing of his idol Cristiano Ronaldo, he could easily be the next cab off the rank at Carrington.
Amad joined United from Atalanta in January 2021 for a fee of £37million. That is a lot of pressure for a young winger and he is yet to live up to it. Thankfully there is still plenty of time – and plenty of indications he is on the right track. The 19-year-old scored three goals in 12 appearances on loan with Rangers and will return to Manchester this summer.
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Shoretire was another player to emerge under Solskjaer to much excitement before fading from view, back into the under-age teams at the club. But the 18-year-old forward remains highly thought-of and will be aiming to add to his four first-team appearances if he is not sent out on loan for the 2022/23 campaign.
Garner is still concentrating on Nottingham Forest following his loan club’s dramatic victory over Sheffield United in the Championship play-off semi-final on Tuesday night, but the midfielder could well be in the United first-team squad for next season. With Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic moving on, the 21-year-old has a real chance in central midfield after returning four goals and eight assists in 48 games for Forest this season.