This campaign started with high hopes for Anthony Elanga. The young Swede was the star of pre-season, but saw his chances impacted by a poorly timed injury.

Elanga has made it back into United’s first team set up, but even the sale of Dan James has not aided his chances.

The youngster had a short window to make an impact, with Marcus Rashford out injured. Unfortunately the chances have not been forthcoming, and now Rashford is on the verge of a return.

Elanga was left on the bench for the Carabao Cup and when he did get on, he was deployed at left-back. It wasn’t ideal, and United’s elimination has probably put an end to further chances.

Anthony Martial’s successful performance on the left wing against Everton further dents Elanga’s first team hopes.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League 2
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Back with the under-23s

While Elanga continues to train with the first team, he has been playing for the under-23s over the past three weeks.

It is not a coincidence that the team’s form has picked up, with Teden Mengi also rejoining the squad to bolster the defence.

Having failed to win the first four games of the under-23 campaign, United have now won the last three.

Elanga has scored winning goals against Brighton and Everton, also netting in the win over Liverpool at the weekend.

They have been different types of goals too. The strike against Brighton was a penalty he had won after he was fouled inside the box.

The goal against Everton was the culmination of a slick team move from close range, and his strike against Liverpool came from a free-kick.

 

Elanga provided an assist against Liverpool too in the 3-0 win, making it four goal contributions in three games.

The youngster is in great form as he prepares to head off for another stint with Sweden’s under-21 side.

In his last 14 matches for Manchester United’s first team, competitive and friendly, Sweden’s under-21s, and United’s under-23s, Elanga has scored 12 goals.

His dropping down to the under-23s is a temporary fix though. The impact saw Joe Hugill pushed down to the under-18s, where he scored a hat-trick, at the expense of in-form Manni Norkett, who had netted five in two games before being benched.

United are playing Elanga at under-23 level to boost his development and in case he is called upon for the first team, to ensure he is ready, but it is looking less and less likely.

Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion: Premier League 2
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Loan move needed in January

Elanga finished as top scorer for the under-23s last season. It nudged him closer to the first team, but evidently not close enough.

Three goals in three games upon dropping back down shows that he is now beginning to outgrow this level.

Elanga needs a loan move to progress and United need to find him a club where he can play regularly between January and the end of the season.

United won’t be short of offers. Elanga has traits which teams love in their side and hate defending against, a combination of pace, trickery, and an eye for goal.

Elanga could quite easily secure a Championship loan in 2022 but may be able to land a top flight move, whether in the Premier League or abroad.

If he gets first team opportunities for United between now and then, expect him to take them, but chances are likely going to be minimal. If this situation continues between now and January, Elanga is going to need a loan for his own sake.

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