With Manchester United’s Europa League campaign about to get underway, there may be a surprise young candidate for a chance in the first team.
18-year-old Largie Ramazani has pleasantly surprised academy coaches with his quality in the under-23s this season. He may even be a better option for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer than the more famous trio of Chong, Greenwood, Gomes and Garner.
An option on the right flank
Solskjaer is somewhat deprived of credible options on the right-wing in his United squad. Dan James can play there among others but he’s much better on the left, just like Rashford and Martial.
Chong, of course, can play on the right but Ramazani has three goals and one assist in three games at right-wing for Neil Wood’s under-23s.
Ramazani is the kind of player that Solskjaer likes. He’s small with a low centre of gravity, good pace and quick feet. In Rashford, Martial and James, Solskjaer has shown his taste for players of those attributes. By selling Ramazani’s countryman Romelu Lukaku, too, it’s obvious that Solskjaer is a sucker for speed and incision.
Much like Martial and James, Ramazani draws fouls. On Friday night Fulham’s Mundle-Smith was sent off for a poor challenge on the 18-year-old.
Ramazani joined United after spells at Charlton Athletic and Anderlecht. His under-23s debut only came at the start of 2019. He’d done well for the under-18s but was a level below some of his teammates.
Ramazani was called up to the under-23s when Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner travelled with the first team away to Crystal Palace in March. He took his chance as well as could be expected with one goal in two games.
At a couple of Ramazani’s games this season, Mike Phelan has been in attendance. He’s watched him tear defenders apart before scoring. Kieran McKenna managed him in the under-18s and is now first-team coach. He’ll tell Solskjaer about Ramazani’s qualities.
Ramazani has four goals and two assists in six games at under-23 level this season. Against Fulham in the most recent fixture, he beat two men on the right flank before pulling it back for Dylan Levitt.
If Mason Greenwood is to play against Astana on Thursday, Ramazani would be a good choice to create chances and space for the exciting striker.
Ramazani’s big improvements
Under-23s manager Neil Wood spoke to the MEN about Ramazani’s improvements on the back of a string of excellent performances.
“He’s really improved,” Wood said. “He had a really good pre-season, he’s come back and he seems to have matured his game on the pitch and he’s producing goals, he’s producing assists.
“We thought his second half compared to his first half was really good and when he’s on that kind of form you kind of see what he can do, but it’s about getting him to maintain that level.”
Coaches at academy level didn’t expect Ramazani to adjust to under-23s football so well and so quickly. He was a relative unknown when United signed him and certainly deserves a first-team chance now.
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