Manchester United added two wingers on transfer deadline day who have the potential to be outstanding players in the future.
Facundo Pellistri, 18, and Amad Traore Diallo, 18, both have the potential to have long and illustrious careers ahead of Old Trafford.
But there is another 18-year-old winger United should not discount either, Anthony Elanga.
Elanga won United’s Jimmy Murphy Award last season, for the best player at under-18s level, after netting seven goals in nine games from the wing.
Previous winners of the award include Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs.
Elanga’s challenge was to step up this season for the under-23s and continue his strong impact at a higher level.
Early on, he has done exactly that. After netting in pre-season against Huddersfield, Elanga has been a consistent performer for the under-23s.
Across five games in the under-23 league and in the EFL Trophy, Elanga has two goals and two assists.
These have been spread out, with Elanga providing a goal or assist in four of the five games he has played, demonstrating impressive consistency.
Who is he and why he is he special?
Elanga, 18, should be regarded every bit as highly as both Pellistri and Traore, despite their multi-million pounds price tags.
The teenager is a Sweden youth international, and his dad Joseph played at the 1998 World Cup for Cameroon.
Elanga’s coach Neil Ryan told the club’s official website: ” He’s an exciting player and scored some great goals for the Under-18s last season. Off the pitch, Anthony is extremely dedicated and always puts in the maximum effort.”
One of the key assets to Elanga’s game is his pace. The young Swede causes problems for defences with his ability to take players on, run behind defences, or cut inside and shoot.
Elanga plays mostly on the left wing, but his assist for Joe Hugill’s goal against Blackburn was a product of an excellent run and cross from the right.
Already in Solskjaer’s thoughts
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought Elanga off the bench for the first team in September’s pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.
While this was due to the unavailability of several first teamers, it highlighted how highly Elanga is regarded, as one of just three young players called up, along with Teden Mengi and Ethan Galbraith.
Neil Wood told the MEN last month: “What you see there is a boy that sees the light of the first team and he just wants to get there, he’s going to work every day to try and get himself there.”
Seeing Pellistri and Traore signing will inspire Elanga to kick on.
He will likely get a chance in pre-season next year with senior stars expected to be late back from Euro 2021.
Even before then though, you cannot rule out Elanga gatecrashing the first team.
United need wingers, and if Elanga keeps on catching the eye for the under-23s, he will earn a chance.
The team will test Pellistri in the under-23s to see if he is ready for a first team shot over the coming weeks.
Elanga could outshine him, and if he does, he deserves the same opportunity which could be afforded to the Uruguayan, while giving the new signing a little more time to adjust at his own pace.
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