Where are they now? Manchester United’s 15 youngest PL debutants

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Manchester United pride themselves on giving young players a chance in the first team – but how have their youngest debutants gone on to fare at Old Trafford?

Since October 1937, United have included an academy graduate in every matchday squad, a record that continues to today.

We’ve taken a look back at the 15 players to have made their Manchester United debuts under the age of 18 in all competitions during the Premier League era, starting from the oldest to the youngest.

Mads Timm

A cautionary tale, Timm was a promising youngster when he arrived at Old Trafford from Odense in 2000, making his senior debut two years later as a 17-year-old in a Champions League clash with Maccabi Haifa.

After two loan spells in Norway, Timm and fellow prospect Callum Flanagan were sentenced to 12 months in a young offenders’ institute for dangerous driving, with Flanagan sacked after hitting another car while racing his team-mate.

Timm was released by United the following year in 2006 and retired from professional football in 2009 aged just 24 citing a lack of motivation.

James Garner

One of United’s current hot prospects, Garner made his first-team debut as a late substitute in a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace in February 2019.

The midfielder joined Watford on loan ahead of 2020-21 in search of regular first-team football and made 21 appearances in all competitions.

After falling out of favour following the arrival of new manager Xisco Munoz, he joined Nottingham Forest on a temporary deal in January 2021 and has made an immediate impact for Chris Hughton’s side.

READ: ‘Better than Busquets’: James Garner has Forest fans raving after top display

Chris Eagles

After joining from Watford in 2000, Eagles was on the books at United for eight years, making 17 appearances in all competitions while also being sent on loan four times.

The midfielder played Premier League football with Burnley and Bolton but has been without a club since leaving Oldham in January 2020.

Nicky Butt

Back at United and now working as head of first-team development, Butt was apparently quite successful as a player at United, but we’re more interested in his time pretending to be David Beckham in Hong Kong.

READ: The last goodbye: When Nicky Butt tried turning into David Beckham

Danny Welbeck

“Man Utd sold players that I would never sell, bought players that I would never buy. I would never sell Di Maria, Chicharito, Danny Welbeck. Never. No chance,” Jose Mourinho told the BBC in March 2017, underlining Welbeck’s status as an underrated player at Old Trafford.

Unfortunate luck with injuries means Welbeck has endured a frustrating few years, and he’s now trying to get his career back on track at Brighton.

Giuseppe Rossi

Another player whose career has been blighted by injuries, Rossi made just five Premier League appearances for United before joining Villarreal in 2007.

After being released by Genoa in 2018, he made a brief return to Old Trafford and trained with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in January 2019.

The 34-year-old had a brief spell at MLS side Real Salt Lake in 2020 and is now a free agent.

Gerard Pique

Pique himself pinpoints a 1-0 defeat at Bolton in 2007 as the moment Sir Alex Ferguson lost faith in his abilities, and he was allowed to return to Barcelona at the end of that season.

F*ck knows what he’s been up to since.

Ravel Morrison

“Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case,” Ferguson wrote in his 2015 book, Leading. “He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed but kept getting into trouble.

“It was very painful to sell him…he could have been a fantastic player. But, over a period of years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and we had little option but to cut the cord.”

After spells in Italy, Mexico and Sweden, Morrison returned to England with Sheffield United in 2019 but only played 12 minutes of top-flight football.

The 28-year-old had a brief stint at Dutch club ADO Den Haag before his contract was terminated by mutual consent in January 2021.

READ: The 10 stages of Ravel Morrison’s career: From Man Utd to Holland

Regan Poole

Released by Manchester United in 2019, Poole joined MK Dons having played just once for the Red Devils as a last-minute substitute in a Europa League clash with Midtjylland.

The centre-back made 51 appearances for the club before joining fellow League One side Lincoln City in January 2021.

Joshua King

Despite featuring just twice for United, King has remained in England to carve out a decent career with Bournemouth, scoring a winning goal against the Red Devils in November 2019.

The striker was heavily linked with a return to Old Trafford in January 2020 but a deal failed to materialise, and he joined Everton in January 2021.

Federico Macheda

Few young players have made quite the instant impact at United as Macheda, with his last-gasp winner against Aston Villa playing a major part in the Red Devils winning the title in 2008-09.

The Italian never hit the same heights again and joined Panathinaikos in September 2018.

READ: Revisiting Federico Macheda’s title-deciding Man Utd debut in 2009

Gary Neville

Scored just seven times in 602 appearances for Manchester United. Rubbish.

Mason Greenwood

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put lots of faith in Greenwood, handing the forward his debut off the bench in the crucial Champions League tie at PSG in March 2019.

The forward enjoyed a remarkable breakthrough season in 2019-20, becoming the first player aged 18 or under to score 10 goals in a Premier League season since Michael Owen in 1997-98. 

Shola Shoretire

Shoretire made his first-team debut as a late substitute in a 3-1 win against boyhood club Newcastle in February 2021 and is tipped for a bright future at Old Trafford.

“He is a boy we believe in. We wanted to give him a little taste of it. Of course the game was not done, still another six or seven minutes but he is a boy we believe in,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after his debut. 

READ: Shola Shoretire could soon make Man Utd forget all about Jadon Sancho

Angel Gomes

Gomes became the youngest player to represent the Red Devils since Duncan Edwards when he made his debut against Crystal Palace in 2017, and he was also the first player born in the 2000s to appear in the Premier League.

The midfielder only made another four Premier League appearances and left Old Trafford in 2020 after rejecting a new contract.

After joining Lille on a free transfer, he was immediately loaned out to Portuguese club Boavista for 2020-21 and has displayed glimpses of his huge talent. 


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