Just a few months ago, Scott McTominay was one of the first names on Manchester United’s team sheet. With Paul Pogba injured and Bruno Fernandes yet to arrive, the youngster excelled at Old Trafford.
However, with United’s midfield transformed following the Portuguese’s arrival – and with Donny van de Beek signed for £40million (BBC) – the future looks a little less certain for McTominay.
That is not to say the 23-year-old will leave. McTominay is a blood-and-thunder midfielder loved by fans and highly rated by his manager. In fact, he is every inch a future United captain.
But he is no longer the guaranteed starter he looked prior to football’s lock-down.
Last season, McTominay featured 37 times in all competitions. A knee injury robbed him of some game time and he was used predominantly as a substitute thereafter.
That role looks set to continue next season. But it does not mean McTominay will be unimportant. On the contrary, his role in 2020/2021 could be extremely important.
A worthy successor
For now, Nemanja Matic remains United’s first-choice holding player.
Even with Van de Beek’s arrival, it is expected to be two-from-three with the Dutchman, Fernandes and Pogba. That leaves McTominay competing with the Serbian star for a starting role.
Matic’s resurgence at United is well documented and he fully deserved his new contract.
The 32-year-old was an almost-ever-present as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side went on a brilliant run in the league. United’s third-place finish owed as almost as much to Matic’s form as Fernandes’s magic and the former will be just as important next season.
However, Matic is not getting any younger. And that is where McTominay comes in.
At nine years his junior, the United youngster will be asked to fill in for Matic on occasions. In so doing, Solskjaer will be able to give the Serb plenty of rest without reducing the quality of his starting XI.
In time, McTominay should replace Matic completely. But, for at least another season, the Scot’s role could be to keep the latter fresh while continuing his own impressive development.