After a hugely impressive breakthrough campaign, expectations are high for Mason Greenwood ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
He’s risen to every challenge he’s faced so far. Perhaps the next one is becoming a genuine central striking option for Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed his gametime and development well last season, before he finally established himself on the right of midfield.
Young players often find it easier to be blooded into the team out wide.
The game isn’t quite as physical there, there tends to be more space and Greenwood gets more chances to use his pace out there.
That was how Anthony Martial developed at United, before Solskjaer transformed him into a clinical, physical, effective number nine.
There’s no doubt Solskjaer’s influence helped Martial last term. He now sniffs out goals and there’s more consistency and fight to his game.
Greenwood could well be set for a similar move from wide to central this season. He’s a more natural number nine than Martial, although not blessed with the same natural attributes in terms of holding the ball up.
With Solskjaer in charge, that move to centre stage looks the natural next stage in his development.
United need a winger first
If United don’t sign a new right winger before the end of the transfer window, Greenwood looks likely to remain first choice.
That would likely make Solskjaer think twice about bringing him inside too regularly.
If, for example, Jadon Sancho arrived, he would expect to start most matches out on the right.
That might accelerate Greenwood’s move inside to compete with Martial. But as we know, a move for Sancho is far from a forgone conclusion.
Perhaps Greenwood will become more of a central option when Odion Ighalo’s loan spell ends in January.
At that point, the Englishman will have 18 months of first team exposure behind him.
Solskjaer may well give Greenwood from then until the end of the season to prove himself as a central option before deciding whether or not to dip into the transfer market for a new frontman.
Would many have predicted Martial’s transformation from inconsistent winger to bullish frontman before the start of last season?
Marcus Rashford looked the more likely option as a central striker, but Solskjaer saw something different and made it work.
He may well be eyeing a similar development for Greenwood in 2020/21.
Mason Greenwood’s career so far
- 17 first team goals in his debut season
Greenwood tied a record set by George Best and Wayne Rooney on their first campaigns for the club.
- Five Europa League goals in his first season
Greenwood’s goals in the Europa League saw him become the club’s youngest ever scorer in European competition.
- 10 Premier League goals
Greenwood became the first teenager since 1997/98 to score 10 Premier League goals or more in a season.
- Absolutely prolific at youth level
Greenwood scored 31 goals in 30 under-18 games, plus five in five UEFA Youth League matches. He scored three in three FA Youth Cup games, and four in seven under-23 matches, before being fast-tracked to the first team.
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