Hannibal leads five Man Utd prospects ready to shine in the Europa League

Manchester United will next season make an unwelcome return to the UEFA Europa League following the final day of the Premier League campaign which saw West Ham fall into seventh place after a defeat to Brighton.

It has been a year to forget for the Red Devils, with Erik Ten Hag having a huge job on his hands if he is to restore United to their former glory.

Yet whilst the Europa League might be seen as a waste of time, the competition provides an opportunity for young players to gain valuable European minutes that would not have been available in the UEFA Champions League.

United have an exciting generation coming through, and off the back of their FA Youth Cup triumph earlier this month, here are five academy players who could star in the Europa League if given a chance to impress by Ten Hag.

Alvaro Fernandez

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The latest recipient of the Denzil Haroun Reserve-Team Player of the Year award, Alvaro Fernandez has been stellar for Manchester United’s U-23s this season, and the Europa League could provide the perfect platform for the fullback to continue his development.

A former Real Madrid academy product, big things are expected of Fernandez at United, and given the club’s struggles with the left-back position over the past 12 months, the Spanish youth international could see plenty of football next season under Ten Hag under necessity.

Zidane Iqbal

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The first British-born South Asian to play for Manchester United and the first ever British South Asian to play in the Champions League, Zidane Iqbal is quite literally a generational talent for many across the United Kingdom and beyond.

Already a full international with Iraq, the 19-year-old midfielder is expected to leap into the first-team next season, and Iqbal could make the Europa League the competition where the youngster makes his name, and hopefully more history for the South Asian community.

Hannibal Mejbri

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Another Manchester United academy star who is a senior international, Hannibal Mejbri has generated a lot of buzz this season after earning his big break in the first team in the latter stages of the season, and next campaign could see the midfielder elevate his game to the next level.

A silky technician who is physically ready for the professional game, Mejbri is the perfect Europa League player for United next season, and the competition will provide the midfielder plenty of minutes to improve his qualities and test himself against some top-level players.

Alejandro Garnacho

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One of the youngest players to feature in the Premier League this season, Alejandro Garnacho has arguably exceeded the likes of Mejbri amongst Manchester United supporters as the most exciting young talent to come through the club’s academy this season.

Called up to Argentina’s senior squad already, the 17-year-old winger is ready to explode next season at United, and the Europa League can be the stage where Ten Hag hands the Madrid-born Garnacho his first real minutes in professional football, where supporters will be excited to watch the teenage talent.

Charlie McNeill

Photo by Tom Purslow/Contributor

17 goals in all competitions is an impressive tally for any youth striker, and for Charlie McNeill, the Manchester United prospect is a strong candidate to feature for the Red Devils next season in Europe.

With Thursday nights likely to be used as a rest game for Cristiano Ronaldo, McNeill could play a good amount in the Europa League for United whether it be off the bench or right from the start, and given the striker’s confidence levels, the youngster will take the opportunity with both hands.

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Football journalist and 2018 Sport Journalism graduate from the University of Brighton.