Erik ten Hag has Manchester United heading back in the right direction and the future at Old Trafford looks bright with countless young stars coming through their ranks.
It’s fair to say that United have one of the best youth academy set-ups in Europe and their current crop of youngsters surely has several future stars amongst them.
We’ve gone through the club’s 15 wonderkids on Football Manager 2023 and assessed their development and progress in real life.
The centre-half had spent his previous two seasons on loan in the Championship with Derby County and Birmingham City. This season he has continued to develop at Old Trafford and has mostly featured for their youth side.
Mengi sustained an injury during United’s mid-season friendly with Real Betis and the United defender was forced to leave the pitch on a stretcher.
“I don’t think it’s as bad as maybe what was first feared, or what it looked like, so that’s positive, “United youth coach Travis Binnion told the Manchester Evening News.
“He’s had a couple of injuries before, so he knows what he’s got to do. He’s got the mental strength to deal with it and come back from it, so he’ll be fine, but it’s disappointing for him.”
Jackson has been a regular for United in the Under18s Premier League this season as he has featured in all eight of their matches so far this season.
The defender has primarily played as a centre-half although he can also operate as a full-back. The 17-year-old looks like a top prospect for the future and is continuing to develop well at Old Trafford.
Fernandez is spending the season with Championship outfit Preston North End and he has already become a fan favourite. The Spanish full-back has produced four assists this season and looks sharp when going forward.
Preston boss Ryan Lowe has admitted that he does need to sharpen up his defensive work though. “Yeah, he lost a bit of focus a couple of weeks ago, I must say, when he was out of the team,” Lowe told Lancs Live.
“He loves it here the kid, doesn’t he? He has got a fantastic talent, but the way he has been coached at Man United is obviously good for the way they want to play, and we’ve had to coach him a little bit differently at times.
“Coming across the pitch and losing the ball; his recovery runs have got to be sprints. But, he is a youngster who has got fantastic talent.”
Alvaro Fernandez's assist from last night 🎯
— utdreport Academy (@utdreportAcad) October 6, 2022
Gore has been a regular for United’s Under-21s this season. The 18-year-old has started in three EFL Trophy matches and has been a regular in their Premier League 2 side in 2022-23 so far.
Larid is progressing in his fourth loan spell away from United. The full-back has consistently impressed for QPR in the Championship and – according to the WhoScored average match ratings – has been the best right-back in the league this season.
His attacking instincts and skilful nature could make him a usual player for United in years to come. This season he has three goal contributions so far, with a goal and two assists.
Ethan Laird sent him shops 😅 pic.twitter.com/2fjQCVPxsZ
— academyarena Utd (@academyarenaUTD) October 21, 2022
It hasn’t taken much time for Birmingham fans to take to combative midfielder Hannibal. The 19-year-old has already been booked six times this season and certainly isn’t afraid of getting stuck in.
“Everyone told me the Championship is physical, and as you can see I am not the biggest guy, but I can manage to win some duels and win some fouls,” Hannibal explained via The Athletic.
“It is hard, but I will get used to it. I am working on discipline. Being good in my position, not doing too much, not opening too many gaps. With the coach we work on this, he explains it to me well — sometimes slowly, for the English, and it’s good. We talk a lot.”
Ten Hag clearly sees something in Mainoo as the 17-year-old has been on the bench for two Premier League matches for United this season, including their most recent game against Wolves.
Elanga has had plenty of first-team opportunities since Ten Hag arrived in the summer. The winger has featured in 12 Premier League matches this season, with five of those being starts.
Following United’s victory against West Ham, the United boss explained: “He’s doing well and he’s a young guy,” Ten Hag told Viaplay Sweden. “Last year, he came in for a lot of games and this year, obviously, I would say it’s normal to drop down in minutes.
“I’m happy to work with him. He has big potential. I think he can have a really good position in world football.”
Shoretire has made United’s matchday squad three times in 2022-23, but he is yet to play any first-team minutes under Ten Hag. The 18-year-old winger has scored four goals in the Premier League 2 this season.
Former United ace Wes Brown believes that the winger has a big future. “Shola’s a top-end quality player,” he told TribalFootball. “That’s the best way to put it. He’s on the ball, he’s clever.
“When you come from youth level and start playing against grown men, that’s where the gap is, and you have to be able to stay with it.I’m pretty sure as Shola carries on, he will get opportunities to play and show what he’s all about.
“He’s very tidy, he can create, I’ve watched him many times at youth level, and he dominates, so you just hope the manager gives him that chance.”
We’re in no doubt that Garnacho is going to the very top.
Having starred for Uruguay at the World Cup, Pellistri is now keen on breaking into the United first team. The youngster has been involved in several match-day squads, but he is yet to get on the pitch under Ten Hag.
As the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho are all ahead of Pellistri in the pecking order, a loan move in January could be on the cards.
Diallo is ripping things up in the Championship right now for Sunderland and United fans are bound to be excited with how well the 20-year-old is developing.
The winger has scored six goals this season and has also produced an assist. The winger is now one of the first names on the Sunderland team sheet and is one of the best players in the Championship right now.
— Divdogz04_yt (@divdogz04) December 30, 2022
Having been poached from Liverpool, Ennis was expected to play a more prominent role for the Under-18s this season until tearing his ACL in August.
The youngster took to Instagram to explain: “Despite the initial disappointment, I have a clear view of what the next steps are and how long my recovery will take.
“In football, as in life, I believe that everything happens for a reason! With difficulty comes opportunity. I am motivated to engage with the process and will return stronger, fitter and better than ever.”
Having been with fellow Norwegian Martin Odegaard, Hansen-Aaroen is one of United’s brightest prospects currently in their youth set-up.
The 18-year-old midfielder has been a regular for the Under-23s and will soon be hoping to break into the first team. Hansen-Aaroen did feature for Ten Hag’s Red Devils during pre-season, but he is yet to make his official debut.
United fans have high hopes for McNeill who is continuing to progress well with the Under-21s. The 19-year-old forward made a brief cameo for United in the Europa League against Real Sociedad this season.
“An honour to make my professional debut for Manchester United,” the centre-forward wrote on Instagram. “I’ve grown up supporting this club and worked for over 10 years to make this dream a reality.
“Too many people to name who have helped me in so many different ways. Thanks to the Academy staff and coaches for everything they have done to support my development.”