Manchester United invited nine young players to train with the ‘first team’ at Carrington on Tuesday.
Both the first team and academy squads are currently depleted, with senior stars on international duty and academy players set for youth international action – or in Alejandro Garnacho’s case, potentially making his full Argentina debut.
Who trained with the first team
Marcus Rashford, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Jadon Sancho, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata were among the first team players involved.
United’s young players to feature in the session consisted of Marc Jurado, Connor Stanley, Joe Hugill, Noam Emeran, Bjorn Hardley, Rhys Bennett, D’Mani Mellor, Shola Shoretire, and Mateo Mejia.
Mejia’s inclusion is particularly notable because he has played just five minutes of academy football since late 2020.
Mateo Mejia’s United career so far
United had supremely high hopes for Mejia when he signed for the club from Real Zaragoza. He arrived in 2019 with a big reputation, with The Sun claiming United paid £600,000 for his signature. The young striker had a prolific goal record in Spain and hope to continue this at Old Trafford.
Mejia’s United career got off to the worst possible start when he was stretchered off with an injury in his first ever game for the under-18s, with the club website describing it at the time as a ‘serious injury’. He did not play for the rest of the 2019/20 season.
The young striker did kick off the 2020/21 season with the under-18s and even scored his first academy goal in a 5-1 victory over Burnley.
But in his third game in October 2020, he suffered another injury and has not played since. He underwent an operation and last season wrote on his Instagram, ‘I’ll be back as soon as I feel ready to go again’.
This season has been another tale of frustration, as he has played just five minutes of game time. This came as a late substitute for the under-23s in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge against August. He has not made a matchday squad since.
The safe assumption to make is that Mejia has still been experiencing ongoing fitness issues which have kept him out, so it is good to see him back training with his teammates, and some of the first team players too, that will give him a real lift.
Mejia, 18, has a contract which expires in 2022 and there is a good chance he moves on. After his terrible luck in Manchester, nobody could blame him for wanting a fresh start.