Where are they now? Man Utd’s youngest Premier League starting Xl

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While Sir Alex Ferguson was renowned for developing young players at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho is 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, most recently conceding 11 goals in two Championship appearances for Huddersfield Town. 

The 24-year-old’s contract at United expires at the end of the 2020-21 season, and he looks set to leave on a free transfer. 

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. 

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 four years on the treatment table.

The centre-back will hit 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 behind Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in the pecking order and, with a new centre-back potentially arriving this summer, he faces an uncertain future at the club. 

READ: 15 times Man Utd’s Eric Bailly was the funniest player in the world

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. 

The 24-year-old then joined Blackpool on a free transfer and has established himself as a regular for the League One side.

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.

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 has remained one of the first names on the team sheet during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, making over 100 appearances under the Norwegian.

He’s also scored some memorable goals for the club, including a stunning strike against Manchester City and a quickfire brace against Leeds United.

CM: Paul Pogba (Michael Carrick, 45)

Despite Mino Raiola’s best efforts to move Pogba to Juventus or Real Madrid, the midfielder remains at Old Trafford for the time being.

After hanging up his boots in 2018, Carrick joined Mourinho’s coaching staff at United and was then retained by Solskjaer. 

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 28-year-old has rediscovered his best form on loan at West Ham United in 2021, registering nine goals and four assists in his first 15 appearances for the Hammers.

He has even forced his way back into Gareth Southgate’s England squad but looks set to leave Old Trafford on a permanent deal, with Leicester City and Nice reportedly vying for his signature.

Martial is now into his fifth season at United and continues to delight and frustrate the fans in equal measure.

READ: Garner next? Six players who became Man Utd regulars after a loan away

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. 

After rejecting the offer of a contract extension with United, Gomes joined Lille in 2020 and has enjoyed a productive loan spell at Portuguese side Boavista.

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.

The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries over the last few years and spent the second half of 2020-21 on loan at League One side Ipswich Town.


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