In the previous installment of the English Premier League, we saw numerous Manchester United academy players awarded with a chance in the first team thanks to Louis van Gaal’s policies regarding youth promotion.
The likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Andreas Pereira, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, and of course, Marcus Rashford, all shone, and these were just four of the 14 academy players who were given their debuts under LVG.
However, with the appointment of Jose Mourinho comes a lot of doubts over the future of many of Manchester United’s finest academy prospects.
While Mou isn’t particularly shying away from giving young players a chance in the first team, he is quite particular over whether or not these players are good enough to be given that chance.
Here, we take a look at which players in United’s current academy might be looking for the opportunity to stake their own claims in the first team this campaign.
Many have already dubbed Gomes the “16 year-old Messi”, a label that, although slightly overstating his ability, perfectly describes his style.
Having become a mainstay in United’s U18s since he was a schoolboy and captaining England at the U16 level, Gomes’ assurance in possession, wide range of passing, excellent vision and eye for goal have seen him make the no.10 role his own in the Red Devils’ academy.
Just last week, he came off the bench in a U18 match against Everton to completely turn around United’s 1-0 deficit, helping his side get their first win of the season. Gomes’ performance made him the youngest United academy player to score a hat-trick in nearly 15 years, as the Red Devils won 5-1.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 6, 2016
Angel Gomes is going to be the best playmaker in the world.
— Jake Lane (@jakerslane) September 3, 2016
United’s U21 vice-captain in last campaign’s title-winning squad, the Portuguese goalkeeper has this season gone out on loan to Belenenses in his home country’s top flight.
Despite this, it would be no surprise to see Pereira knocking on the door of the first team in the coming years, particularly if David de Gea were to be coaxed to Madrid.
During his short-term loan spell at Rochdale last year, manager Keith Hill stated: “I think he is going to be a top, top goalkeeper, his pass range is remarkable, he has composure and a thirst to win, and he reads an opponent very well. He is an exceptional talent.”
The only player on this list who has already been named in the first-team squad, the 18-year-old centre-back, who has been at the club since he was eight, has had quite the rapid rise through United’s ranks in recent years.
Before Paul McGuinness left his post as Manchester United youth team coach back in February, Tuanzebe was his first first-year scholar to be named as the academy’s captain, also the first player for this to happen to since Gary Neville.
Tuanzebe is an imposing figure who is comfortable in possession despite his obvious brawn, and was the 2015 winner of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award.
Despite making 28 starts for the academy last term, he is remarkably still eligible for another year of academy football, however after making a few appearances for Warren Joyce’s U21 side, and featuring on the first team bench last October at the young age of 17, I’m sure Tuanzebe will be aiming a bit higher.
The Salford-born playmaker has had to deal with plenty of anticipation and hype ever since scoring twice in an Under-13 match at Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena, in advance of Edwin van der Sar’s testimonial.
The 17-year-old has a sort of Riyad Mahrez style to his game in the sense that he’s a left-sided right-winger always looking to pick up the ball and make things happen.
After what was a superb start to the season last term, taking over the armband occasionally in the academy, and making a few appearances for the U21s, Gribbin unfortunately picked up an injury which curtailed the rest of his season.
Thankfully though, the elegant midfielder, who made his U21 debut while still a schoolboy, is still eligible for another academy season, so he’ll be setting his sights on the first team I’m sure.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 10, 2016
Chong, who is still only 16, just joined Manchester United from Feyenoord in July, yet is already making a real impact in the academy.
Easily identifiable by his long shaggy afro, the Dutch forward has blistering pace, meaning he can operate on either the left or down the middle.
Despite his extremely young age, Chong has already set his sights on playing for Warren Joyce’s U21s in the next year, and with the talent that this young lad has, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him accomplish that.
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