Manchester United's Kobbie Mainoo during the UEFA Youth League match at Leigh Sports Village. Wednesday December 8, 2021.

Seven insanely talented teenagers that could save Man Utd’s future

While Manchester United aren’t in a great position right now, there is hope for the future as they have a hugely exciting crop of young players coming through the academy.

Erik ten Hag is looking to complete a squad overhaul at Old Trafford and will make new signings, but he could eventually turn to United’s talented young players.

We’ve taken a look at seven of United’s best players that are currently aged 19 or under.

Alejandro Garnacho

Signed from Atletico Madrid’s academy in September 2020, Garnacho has gone from strength to strength over the last two years.

The left winger is renowned for his blistering pace and trickery with the ball at his feet, regularly taking on defenders before cutting inside on his right foot. 

He helped United win the FA Youth Cup in 2021-22, registering seven goals and three assists in six appearances in the competition.

The 18-year-old made two cameo apperances for the first team at the end of the season and then enjoyed a productive summer, scoring four goals for Argentina Under-20s at the Tournoi Maurice Revello and winning the revelation of the tournament award.

Ten Hag reportedly told senior staff at Old Trafford that he intends to fast-track Garnacho’s career, and the teenager could benefit from United’s lack of attacking options.

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho celebrates against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford, Manchester, May 2022.

READ: ‘A full-back’s nightmare’ – What’s been said about Alejandro Garnacho

Alvaro Fernandez

Despite being offered a new contract by Real Madrid, Fernandez decided to leave Spain and join United’s academy in 2020. 

The 19-year-old has everything in his locker to become the perfect modern-day full-back, combining his defensive skills with a massive attacking threat down the left flank.

He won United Under-23s Player of the Year award in 2021-22 and will now spend this season at Championship side Preston North End. The loan spell has got off to a great start as the left-back registered two assists on his debut. 

Charlie McNeill

With Cristiano Ronaldo lookng to leave Old Trafford before the end of the transfer window, United are reportedly in the market for a new striker.

But McNeill will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow academy graduate Marcus Rashford, who made a seamless transition to first-team football.

The 18-year-old striker reportedly scored over 600 goals for Manchester City’s youth teams before joining the red side of Manchester in 2020. 

He’s carried on banging them in for United’s youth teams and netted five goals in the FA Youth Cup in 2021-22, including two in the semi-final win over Wolves. 

Manchester United's Charlie McNeill during their match with Young Boys in Manchester, England, December 2021.

READ: Man Utd’s Charlie McNeill is already becoming the ultimate sh*thouse

Kobbie Mainoo

United have been trying to sign a midfielder since Paul Pogba’s departure but they may already have his long-term replacement.

Mainoo, who is the youngest player on this list, made his Under-18s debut at the age of 15 in October 2020 and has now been promoted to their Under-23s for the 2022-23 season.

The 17-year-old midfielder has already been compared to Pogba due to his technical skills, dribbling ability and impressive passing range.

If this outrageous nutmeg against Chelsea Under-18s is anything to go by, Mainoo definitely has a very bright future.

Isak Hansen-Aaroen

After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked by United, Hansen-Aaroen could ensure that there is still a Norweigan in and around Old Trafford for the foreseeable future. 

The midfielder made his first-team debut for boyhood club Trosmo at the age of 15 and had trials at Liverpool and Everton before deciding to join United’s academy in 2020.

He’s renowned for his natural flair and playmaking ability and has been compared to Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard, who operates in a similar creative midfield position.

“He has those little bits of quality,” Under-23s manager Neil Wood said after Hansen-Aaroen registered an assist against Young Boys in the UEFA Youth League in December 2021.

“He has the ability to beat people one-v-one, he’ll take the ball in the game and dribble or a nice touch off his back foot which is really smooth and I think that really stands out.”

The 17-year-old has become a key player for the Under-23s and recently made hs unofficial first-team debut for United, coming off the bench at Old Trafford in a pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano. 

Zidane Iqbal

After starring for the Under-23s and scoring some spectacular goals, Iqbal made his senior debut in a Champions League game against Young Boys in December 2021.

He became the first British South Asian to play for the club and has since represented the Iraq natonal team, playing in World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Lebanon.

The 19-year-old, who grew up idolising Mesut Ozil, recently went on the club’s pre-season tour and was undoubtedly the breakout star.

Iqbal produced a brilliant second-half cameo against Liverpool before showcasing his impressive skills against Melbourne Victory.

According to reports, he has impressed Ten Hag and the new United boss wants to keep the midfielder around to oversee his progress.

Manchester United's Zidane Iqbal

READ: Man Utd literally have their own Zidane – he even scores like Zizou

Shola Shoretire

Shoretire is highly-regarded at United and made his senior debut at 17 when he came off the bench against Newcastle United in February 2021.

The 18-year-old, who won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2021, has since made another four first-team appearances and is the youngest player to ever represent United in a European competition.

He registered 15 direct goal contributions in 22 Premier League 2 apperances in 2021-22 and has clearly outgrown Under-23s football.

“He has an amazing maturity for such a young lad — he has always been thrust into the older age groups,” former United coach Neil Ryan told the Athletic. “Not always every decision to do that based purely on what the coach thinks. A lot of different factors have come into that, almost fast-tracked at times.

“I think it could have been balanced better; have him in his own age at certain times. It would have been nice for him to be involved in the Youth Cup last year — he has missed out on some big moments there.

“He is technically gifted, he is quite ruthless and tough as a boy, got a good mentality — for me personally never one problem in the five, six years I worked with him.

“He can play left, right, No 10, as a false nine, he can play deeper midfield as well.”

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