As always, there is a plethora of unbridled talent at Manchester United. The famous club has been known over the years for producing nothing but absolute quality out of the famed Carrington academy. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have made their presence felt in the senior side of late but who are the next lot attempting to force their ways into Jose Mourinho’s plans?
Here are 5 United kids destined for big things.
19-year-old Tuanzebe got his first taste of senior action in the pre-season against Wigan Athletic after immediately impressing Jose Mourinho. During the summer, the DR Congo-born centre-back went on the trip to China having quickly placed himself in the forefront of Mourinho’s mind. With Axel, ten minutes is enough. The potential is there, you can see it immediately,” said the Portuguese. Tuanzebe responded positively to that praise: “To have your manager backing you so strongly is a positive sign and my aim now is just to keep impressing and striving towards my goals.” The 2015 Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year winner captained United’s U18 team as a first-year scholar and helped the U21 team to the Premier League 2 title last season. In 2016/17, the promising youngster is the U23 side’s captain and according to the Daily Mail’s ‘Secret Scout’, is a talent ‘who could play for the Reds for years to come’.
United’s Academy adviser Les Kershaw is also a big wrap for the Rochdale boy: “He’s a very, very good player. And is one of them that I really like because he has a strong personality.”
His credentials are ever-growing after former youth coach Paul McGuinness threw him in the deep end by handing the captain’s armband as schoolboy.
“It was the first time I’d picked a first-year scholar as captain,” said McGuinness at the time.
“I don’t think that has happened since Gary Neville was youth-team skipper. Axel did a very good job – on and off the field.”
While he is destined for the first team, perhaps a loan move to a Championship club could be the order of the day. But if he continues to learn from the likes of Michael Carrick, we could see a rapid rise from the 6ft 1in teenager who could quite possibly be promoted to Mourinho’s plans when Eric Bailly goes away in January.
The skilful midfielder is from a United-supporting family and is intent on making the grade at the famous club. There is plenty of excitement surrounding Harrop, who is seen as a central midfielder who loves to attack, but has been honing his game in various positions on the pitch over the past year or so.
“I can adjust to quite a few positions. I’ve played right-back, centre-midfield, off the striker and a no.10. It helps to improve your game,” he said previously.
Harrop got the chance to train with the first team under Louis van Gaal last term:”I’ve been training before a few of the Champions League games and been in and out when we’ve needed players coming over.
“It’s great getting asked and good experience to be with the first team. It’s nice to get involved and for the manager to see you.”
However, Mourinho has not yet extended too many invites to Harrop this season as he has an abundance of players who can operate in a similar role.
It is clear to see that the 21-year-old absolutely loves his role as a Man United player and if he can continue to develop as he has done since returning to full fitness after an injury-plagued 2015/16, then the sky is the limit for a player who produced this goal below in July…
Signed at 13, Angel Gomes’ name is littered with all sorts of superlatives. Born in 2000, the 16-year-old has already drawn comparisons with Lionel Messi and reports earlier in the season indicated that Barcelona and Real Madrid were watching him with interest. Gomes’ father Gil was a Portugal U20 international who also coached at United and played for Salford City, who are owned by the Class of ’92. He says that any interest from other clubs is flattering but insists that United is the club for his proficient offspring.
“I don’t deny that many clubs ask me about him, but that’s what he always saysÖ the next dream is to play for Manchester United’s first team, a club where he has been growing,” said Gil last month.
The sublimely talented teen has already captained the England U17 team which is a blessing for the Three Lions as he is also eligible to represent Angola and Portugal. He has also won plaudits from his cousin, former United star and Euro2016 winner Nani, who once wrote the following on his Instagram: “Follow the Man Utd next star, Angel!”, alongside an image of the player.
Academy boss Nicky Butt told The Times of Gomes in September: “We’ve got some unbelievable players.
“Angel Gomes is a young talented player we’ve massive hopes for.”
During his time at Carrington, Gomes has constantly stepped up to play in higher age groups and can play as an attacking midfielder but shows promise when operating as a bona fide no.10.
And it’s audacious moves like this that have the United fans holding very high hopes…
The versatile Dutch midfielder joined United from Ajax in October. Labelled as ‘prodigy’, Baars is mainly deployed as a right winger where he constantly coasts past would-be tacklers with consummate ease. He will be eligible to play in offical matches for his new club in January. Baars was the subject of interest from a number of clubs around Europe but opted for United, even ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal. His father Stefan told Noordhollands Dagblad: “There was interest from Italy, Portugal and England, but when he was at Chelsea and United to look, he knew he wanted to play in Manchester.
“He did not even see Arsenal, his choice was made.”
Just to get a taste of what he is capable of, here’s a highlights package of Baars courtesy of YouTube user ‘Voetbal Liefhebber’…
This guy’s already making a name for himself in United’s youth setup. Chong comes with bountiful curly locks, a mix between Carlos Valderrama, Carles Puyol, Marouane Fellaini and a touch of Rene Higuita, which makes him impossible to miss. A Dutch youth international, 16-year-old Chong was signed from Feyenoord this past summer, with United winning the race for his services ahead of plenty of other suitors. Loaded with skill and pace, Chong does his best work on the left wing and already endeared himself to his new club with his comments upon departing Feyenoord in April.
“It was my intention to stay at Feyenoord, but no plan was made for me,” he told Elf Voetbal.
“When I said I wanted to leave, they made a plan. That was too late.
“At Manchester United I had a better feeling.
“You can feel it immediately when you walk in a club.”
The lad is going so well he now has an Official Twitter Page, blue tick and all.
So United are continuing to scout all of Europe looking to add the highest quality and super-talented young players to their academy ranks and clearly academy boss Nicky Butt feels the club are attracting and signing some truly world-class starlets who hopefully they can develop into first team players of the future and given their history you would have to say United have a pretty good chance of pulling it off with the majority of the 5 youngsters profiled here.
Guest post contributed by our friends at Tribal Football by Andrew Slevison.