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 25-year-old joined RKC Waalwijk when his contract expired last summer, but he’s only made a couple of appearances for the Eredivisie club.
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 has made four brief Bundesliga appearances off the bench for Leverkusen this season.
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 behind Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane in the pecking order and faces an uncertain future at the club. He remains contracted at Old Trafford until 2024.
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.
However, he’s been left out of the Italian club’s Europa League squad and his only start to date was in a 5-2 Coppa Italia defeat to Fiorentina.
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 entrusted to start regularly under Ralf Rangnick.
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)
Despite Mino Raiola’s best efforts to move Pogba to Juventus or Real Madrid, the midfielder remains at Old Trafford for the time being. It doesn’t look like he will be much longer, though – United’s record signing is a free agent in the summer and it appears unlikely he’ll sign a last-minute extension.
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 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.
He was a regular fixture of the gossip columns in January, with a return to West Ham or move to newly-minted Newcastle mooted, but he ended up staying put – another that looks set to leave for free this summer.
Martial continued to frustrate the fans at Old Trafford in his sixth season. Having fallen behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the pecking order, he was loaned out to Sevilla in January.
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. The 36-year-old rejected an interview for the vacancy at Everton last month, such is his commitment to working miracles at beleaguered Derby.
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.
The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries over the last few years and is spending the second half of 2021-22 on loan at League One side Fleetwood Town.
Another look at new signing Josh Harrop.
— North End News (@DeepdaleTalk) June 23, 2017