Manchester United head into 2021 with a whole host of talented defenders making waves for the U18s and U23s.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stuck with the same defenders for much of his time at Old Trafford. Yet he has also given youth a chance with Brandon Williams benefitting last season.

Here are three young prospects who are all potential first-team material.

Teden Mengi

For a while last season, it looked as though Teden Mengi could leapfrog Aexel Tuanzebe as United’s next breakthrough centre-back.

The latter’s injuries saw the former promoted to first-team training. Yet Mengi has slipped back into the second string this season.

That is no surprise given he is still only 18 and Solskjaer has plenty of centre-backs to choose from. But Mengi is an outstanding prospect who should get his chance to impress in 2021.

The under-23 captain is the real deal and could form an outstanding long-term partnership with Tuanzebe in time.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Ethan Laird

Some United fans were surprised when Diogo Dalot was shipped out on loan this season. But others hoped that would give fellow right-back Ethan Laird the chance to impress.

 

For now, the 19-year-old is behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams in the pecking order. But Laird’s talent is undeniable and he is quickly outgrowing U23 football.

An injury back in September saw Laird side-lined but he is now making up for lost time, grabbing an assist against Manchester City’s next generation.

Alvaro Fernandez

The youngest player on this list but arguably the most exciting of the bunch – Alvaro Fernandez arrived at Old Trafford last summer.

Previously one of Real Madrid’s best young prospects, the 17-year-old is starting to sparkle for United’s U23s.

With a goal against Brighton and an assist against Chelsea, Fernandez is an attacking full-back who could be the heir apparent for Luke Shaw and Alex Telles. He also scored once in just two appearances for the U18s before moving up.

There is a way to go before the Spaniard gets a first-team chance. But United pulled off a real coup bringing him to England.

Have something to tell us about this article?