Six United youth players who could follow Shoretire by making Premier League debuts
On top of being a good week for the first team, the oast week was extremely successful for United’s academy and youth teams. Last Thursday’s game against Real Sociedad provided new signing Amad Diallo with his first-team debut, while Sunday’s home game against Newcastle was the stage for Shola Shoretire’s debut at the impressive age of 17 in the Premier League.
While perhaps not given as much as time in those games as United fans would have liked, both cameos showed why fans are becoming increasingly excited at the current state of United’s academy and reserves.
Diallo is waiting for his first Premier League chance and it’s only a matter of time. There is a chance there could be more debutants by the end of the season. Here is a look at six possibles…
Having recently been promoted to first team training this season, Mejbri could well make an appearance this year in the league or the Europa League. The 18-year-old Frenchman is currently injured but has been in fine form for the U23s this season and is due back in a month.
You can often find clips and videos of Mejbri on social media, and it is fair to say he is one of the talents that United fans are most excited about.
A tall central midfield player who possesses quick feet, superb dribbling and close control skills and an excellent eye for a pass, Mejbri may be the latest in a long line of talented French playmakers. In an era of statistics his numbers don’t do his talent justice – you can expect to see him playing for United very soon.
If one might look at Mejbri’s stats to discredit him, the same is simply not possible for Charlie McNeill. A new signing from Man City in September 2020, McNeill left the club in 2013 to join City. In that time, McNeill apparently scored 600 goals for City’s youth teams. This is a mind-boggling number but watching him for United’s youth teams will give you a sufficient explanation.
McNeill made his debut for the U23s in a 3-1 loss last week against Everton. Before that game, in the U18s he had 12 goals in 11 appearances. His goal return remains impressive, and his skillset familiar; he is adept with both feet and can score all types of goals, ranging from long-range strikes to headers and more skilful finishes, and can play anywhere along the front three.
Despite being just 17, Solskjaer will be keen to test McNeill against higher level opposition. He recently scored all 4 goals in a 4-2 win against his old club, and United fans will hope he can provide similar form in the near future.
Another signing from summer 2020, Hugill arrived from Sunderland and is another prolific 17-year-old striker. He has 16 goals and 3 assists over 18 league appearances for the U18s and U23s. Along with McNeill, there is a lot of excitement around Hugill, and with 17-year-old Shoretire making his debut last week a debut for Hugill or McNeill could be just around the corner.
A 6ft 2in striker, fans might assume that they know Hugill’s game. But while he can play the traditional target-man role, holding up the ball and linking play, Hugill is a lethal finisher with exceptional movement. His goal stats speak for themselves, but a quick view of the highlights of his four goals in the 6-2 win against Liverpool will tell you all you need to know about his finishing ability.
While perhaps a little more one-footed than McNeill, Hugill also has the ability to score every type of goal, and his progression so far this season has far exceeded what United’s academy coaches had expected. If he carries on like this, expect to see him make his debut sooner rather than later.
The winner of United’s Youth Team Player of the Year award in 2019/20, Elanga is an 18-year-old winger who has 6 goals and 2 assists in 12 league appearances so far this season. Although currently injured, we can expect Elanga to make his debut soon enough, as he is highly regarded within the academy set up.
A pacy winger who can also play more centrally when needed, Elanga is a promising talent. His goal and assist return is decent, but coaches at the academy are currently working on improving his work in and around the box.
He is an exciting player to watch and pace could fit into United’s counter-attacking style., If he can get fit and picks up where he left off, then expect to see him at Old Trafford by the end of this season.
Puigmal has been one of the stalwarts of the U23s over the past couple of seasons since arriving in 2017 from Espanyol. Despite playing a number of different positions for the youth teams, including right-back, he mainly thrives in central midfield, where he has 7 goals and 3 assists in 12 appearances this season.
A technical, ball playing centre mid, Puigmal has been referred to as a physical player who likes to make runs from deep and who can pass and shoot well with both feet.
He’s yet to sign a new contract with United, and this could be key to his chances of a debut.
Having debuted in the Europa League against Astana in 2019, and already holding an international cap with Northern Ireland, 19-year-old Ethan Galbraith is tipped for great things at United. He was recently added to this season’s Europa League squad.
A talented ball-playing central midfielder, Galbraith often plays as a holding midfielder but has played more centrally and on the right in the past. He prefers dictating the tempo of the game and moving the ball forward whenever possible, but he can play more advanced and still comes up with some goals and assists, having scored and assisted twice already this season.
He often gets himself into good goal scoring opportunities, and so there is room for improvement with regards to finishing, but that is not Galbraith’s primary function – he is there to get the ball moving and to start attacks, something he undoubtedly excels at.
As one of the oldest players on this list, and keeping in mind the difference between integrating 17-year-old and 19-year-olds intp the first team squad, expect to see Galbraith make his Premier League debut soon.
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