Where are they now? Man Utd’s youngest Premier League starting XI
While Sir Alex Ferguson was renowned for developing young players at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho is actually the manager responsible for their youngest-ever Premier League side.
Mourinho made several changes for a dead rubber against Crystal Palace on the final day of the 2016-17 season as United prepared for the Europa League final against Ajax.
We’ve taken a look back at their side from that day to see how they’ve all fared since.
GK: Joel Pereira
Having impressed Mourinho in training, Pereira made his Premier League debut against Palace and kept a clean sheet.
“We have a third goalkeeper that I think will be the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation so anyone in goal I trust completely,” Mourinho said in May 2017.
He has since been out on loan to four different clubs, including a stint at Huddersfield Town where he conceded 11 goals in two Championship appearances.
The 26-year-old joined RKC Waalwijk when his contract expired in 2021.
RB: Timothy Fosu-Mensah
After starting in the win against Palace, Fosu-Mensah had to wait over three years for his next senior United appearance.
During those three years, the defender had promising loan spells at Palace and Fulham before an anterior cruciate ligament injury stalled his progress.
He joined Bayer Leverkusen in search of regular first-team football in January 2021 but suffered another serious knee injury on just his seventh appearance for the club.
Fosu-Mensah made his long-awaited comeback in January 2022 and is slowly making his recovery.
CB: Phil Jones
Once tipped to be United’s greatest-ever player by Sir Alex Ferguson, Jones failed to live up to those lofty expectations and has spent most of the last five years on the treatment table.
The centre-back reached his 10-year anniversary as a United player in June 2021 but rejected the chance to have a testimonial.
“There’d be only my mum and dad who would turn up,” Jones told Goal in 2019. We want him to find a move and be happy now.
CB: Eric Bailly
While we’re on the subject of injury-prone defenders…
Bailly looked like the heir to Nemanja Vidic during his debut season at United in 2016-17 but has rarely had a consistent run of starts due to fitness issues.
The Ivory Coast international is currently spending the 2022-23 season at Marseille after slipping down the pecking order at Old Trafford.
LB: Demetri Mitchell
A United academy graduate, Mitchell was making his senior debut in the win over Palace and impressed up against Wilfried Zaha.
Despite being named United’s Reserve Player of the Year for 2017-18, he never made another first-team appearance for the club and was released in 2020.
He then joined Blackpool on a free transfer and subsequently helped Neil Critchley’s Tangerines get promoted last season, but fell to the fringes in the Championship and was subsequently sold to Hibernian in January 2022.
CM: Axel Tuanzebe
Tuanzebe enhanced his reputation during two loan spells at Aston Villa, helping the club win promotion from the Championship.
The 23-year-old returned to United in 2019 but has been hampered by injuries and a lack of consistency over the last two seasons.
While he produced a brilliant performance against Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, he then struggled against David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp. Figure that one out.
He signed a new two-year deal at Old Trafford in the summer, but was subsequently shipped out for a third Villa loan. Tuanzebe fell out of favour following the appointment of Steven Gerrard and was recalled before being sent out to Napoli for the second half of the 2021-22 campaign.
But he failed to impress in Italy and is currently languishing in the United reserves.
CM: Scott McTominay
McTominay went on to enjoy an impressive breakthrough season at United in 2017-18, winning Mourinho’s unique Player of the Year award.
The Scotland international subsequently remained one of the first names on the team sheet during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, making over 100 appearances under the Norwegian, and remains a vital squad member under Erik ten Hag.
He’s also scored some memorable goals for the club, including a stunning strike against Manchester City and a quickfire brace against Leeds United.
A close second, Mctominay’s goal against Man City 🔥⚽
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) December 30, 2020
CM: Paul Pogba (Michael Carrick, 45)
Pogba was an infuriating performer during his second spell at Old Trafford, with the flashes of quality he produced making the string of underwhelming displays unforgivable. He returned to Juventus in the summer.
After hanging up his boots in 2018, Carrick joined Mourinho’s coaching staff at United before taking charge at Middlesbrough in October 2022.
RW: Jesse Lingard (Anthony Martial, 45)
Lingard fell out of favour under Solskjaer and found himself on the fringes of the first team following Bruno Fernandes’ arrival in January 2020.
The 29-year-old rediscovered his best form on loan at West Ham United in 2021, registering nine goals and four assists in 16 appearances for the Hammers, before returning to his boyhood club for the 2021-22 season.
But Lingard was unable to force his way into the starting XI and has since left for Nottingham Forest. He is yet to rediscover his best form.
Martial’s days at United looked numbered when he was shunted out to Sevilla in January but he’s since returned to Old Trafford and remains in Ten Hag’s plans.
ST: Wayne Rooney (Angel Gomes, 88)
Rooney ended his 13-year association with United after their Europa League final win, spending a season back at boyhood club Everton.
The striker had a brief stint with MLS side DC United and then returned to England with Derby County, first as a player-coach before being appointed as manager in January 2021.
He was unable to keep Derby in the second tier and accepted an offer to manage MLS side D.C. United in the summer.
After rejecting the offer of a contract extension with United, Gomes joined Lille in 2020, enjoyed a productive loan spell at Portuguese side Boavista, and is now back with the Ligue 1 champions.
LW: Josh Harrop
Harrop marked his United debut with the opening goal against Palace, but that proved to be his one and only appearance for the club.
He turned down a new deal at Old Trafford and instead joined Championship side Preston North End in order to play more first-team football – where he remains to this day.
Another look at new signing Josh Harrop.
— North End News (@DeepdaleTalk) June 23, 2017