Who is Manchester United teenager Zidane Iqbal?

The Athletic report that Zidane Iqbal is set to be on the substitutes bench for Manchester United tonight at Old Trafford in the Champions League against Young Boys.

Ralf Rangnick is set to ring the changes and rest some of his senior players with qualification from the group in top spot already sealed.

That could see Iqbal handed a Champions League debut at some point if the game is going United’s way.

With that in mind, we have put together everything you need to know about the teenager.

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Iqbal’s background

Iqbal is the son of a a Pakistani father and Iraqi mother born in Manchester.

He has played for Iraq at international level, for their Under-23 side, and scored his first international goal as captain in a 2-2 draw at the WAFF Under-23 Championship in October.

Iqbal’s progression

Iqbal has already managed to score in four different competitions this season.

As well as the aforementioned Iraq Under-23 goal, he has scored in Premier League 2, the EFL Trophy and against Atalanta in the UEFA Youth League.

Iqbal has played 15 games in all competitions this term for the Under-23 side, since stepping up a level from the Under-18s.

The youngster is still only 18 and does not turn 19 until April, having made his debut for the Under-18s at the age of just 16 in July 2020.

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Iqbal’s style of play

With a name like Zidane, most people will already have a style of play in mind when they hear it.

As it happens, Iqbal is a creative midfielder, like his legendary namesake.

But he is versatile, capable of playing in a more conventional central midfield, as a number 10 and also from the right or left of midfield.

He is 5ft 11 but slender, with an eye for goal from outside the box.

He scored a stunning goal from outside the box against Sunderland in the EFL Trophy, and will hope that more like that is to come.

Still waiting for a chance

Iqbal has only been playing Under-23 football and has not been included in a senior first team squad before.

He is still waiting for his senior debut, and only signed his first pro United contract in July.

It’s not easy to stand out in the academy with the likes of Shola Shoretire and Hannibal in midfield but Iqbal may get his opportunity against Young Boys.

What they say

Stewart Hamer was Development Officer at Sale United in the early 2000s, where Iqbal was first spotted by United, and spoke to the Manchester Evening News in September about what the midfielder is like.

“At the time Zidane got taken to United, Manchester City and Liverpool as well. We used to run competitions at the end of the year and invariably Zidane would do very well. He did certainly have quite a bit of talent; very early on you could tell Zidane had a clear ability to control the ball.

“That’s the first thing, to see if they’re comfortable on the ball. He had a great attitude as well, always willing to learn, played with a big smile on his face and was quite happy to do whatever we challenged him to do.

“There was times when we would play six-a-side competitions when he would be basically ripping it up and we would take him off and substitute him because it wasn’t fair to the other side.”

That precocious talent looks set to take Iqbal to the matchday United first team squad, with the talent to have plenty more memorable nights ahead.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.