The Manchester United youth academy players waiting to burst onto the scene
Manchester United’s acclaimed youth academy has produced some of the best players in the history of the club as well as the United Kingdom. From the great George Best and Bobby Charlton to the marvellous Paul Scholes and David Beckham, United’s academy has created players that have gone on to define the club’s history and make it into the establishment that it is today.
Some of the Premier League’s finest players right now are also youth products of the Red Devils. United’s Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, and Scott McTominay have come up from the reserve team to become regular first-team starters. So, it is natural for fans to be on the lookout for the next batch of young talent that go on to don the famous red and white kit of the 20-time English top-flight champions.
Here, we look at 5 such talents that are on the verge of a breakout and have what it takes to be the next Scholes, Rashford, Bardsley, or Beckham. So, strap in!
5. James Garner, 20 (Defensive Midfield)
James Garner is perhaps the one with the most first-team experience on this list. The defensive midfielder is ahead of his age and has already played senior football out on loan at Nottingham Forest as well as Watford. He made an astonishing 40 Championship appearances last season for the two clubs combined and is already deemed as a player worthy of being given a league start at United.
Garner has already started in Europe for the club, and with a busy season now behind him, this could be the year that we seen Garner find a place for himself in the United midfield in cup games at least. With Nemanja Matic 33 this year, could Garner be the one to succeed him in the long term?
4. Ethan Laird, 19, (Right-back)
A player who can address a problem that the Red Devils currently have, Ethan Laird is tipped for big things at the club. He has spent his entire youth career on United’s books and finally got a taste of senior football this season as he was loaned out to League One side, MK Dons, where he made 24 league appearances. Like Garner, Laird has also already featured for the club in the Europa League.
United currently have little to no options at right-back apart from Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The former Crystal Palace defender is used heavily by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but there are no direct replacements for him. Brandon Williams is one, but he has started out his career as a left-back. And so, Laird can be a homemade solution to the Norwegian’s problems in that area this season, or the next.
3. Hannibal Mejbri, 18 (Attacking Midfield)
Hannibal Mejbri is perhaps one of the most hyped names in the Manchester United youth academy right now. The 18-year-old Tunisian midfielder is making waves at the U-23 level for the club, scoring 5 times and providing 10 assists for the reserve team this season. He even got to make his Premier League debut in a cameo appearance against Wolves on the last day of the season.
Even signing him wasn’t a very easy task. Mejbri’s hype meant that Barcelona, Manchester City, as well as Arsenal, were interested in the curly-haired sensation (h/t The Express). But thankfully for United fans, he left Monaco to join Old Trafford in the summer of 2019. Mejbri is just 18 but it seems like Solskjaer is ready to offer him some minutes next season. Don’t be surprised to see more and more of him as the months pass by.
2. Shola Shoretire, 17 (Left-winger)
Shola Shoretire is by far the most exciting prospect at the club’s youth academy right now and is tipped to follow in the footsteps of Greenwood and Rashford- two Englishman who have played in a similar position for the senior side. Signed from Manchester City’s youth team all the way back in 2014, Shoretire is knocking on Solskjaer’s door for more first-team action.
It is evident in the fact that the Norwegian gave two short substitute appearances to the teenager in the Premier League this season. While he did not have enough time to make any real impact, it was a sign that those minutes would only increase. It was, perhaps, Shoretire’s form in Premier League 2 that caught the manager’s eyes. He scored 10 and assisted further 5 goals as United’s U23 scored the 2nd-most goals in their division.
1. Amad Diallo, 18 (Right-winger)
The name Amad Diallo needs no introduction, but for good measure, we’ll give you one anyway. He was signed by Manchester United over the course of last and joined up with the team in January 2021 for a transfer fee in the region of £37million. Now, United won’t pay that money for just any player.
The Ivory Coast international is way ahead of his age bracket and has already made his United debut in the Premier League, Europa League, and the FA Cup in less than 6 months. He is definitely one player that will play a part in United’s first team next season.
With United clearly lacking right-wingers in the team, Diallo can provide ample competition to whoever plays for United in that position next season- whether it’s a new signing or someone from their current squad. And this is not just us saying it, but something that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes himself.
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These are our picks for the top 5 Manchester United youth academy prospects for the future. If you think we missed out on anyone, let us know in the comments below.