It’s been quite the season for Alejandro Garnacho, the youngster from Atletico Madrid that’s become an honorary Mancunian with his performances for Manchester United.
Having shone as United won the FA Youth Cup in 2022, Garnacho was promoted to the first team by Erik ten Hag and has blossomed into one of the more fearless attackers in the Premier League.
Quick, brave and leaving defenders a quivering wreck with his relentlessness, few opponents relished the sight of Garnacho entering the fray. Three goals and two assists in 19 league appearances hinted at the monster he could become.
And clutch goals against Real Sociedad and West Ham in the cup competitions indicated Garnacho, unlike many of his expensive colleagues, didn’t shrink in the United shirt.
All this made it inevitable that he earned his first senior cap for Argentina on Thursday, coming off the bench in a 2-0 friendly win over Australia. The 18-year-old did the same again on Monday as the world champions beat Indonesia by the same scoreline.
Garnacho didn’t score, but left his mark on proceedings in a more chaotic manner; after being dispossessed by a flying Indonesian tackle, the United man succumbed to the red mist.
You know the type; the red mist that descends when you stub a toe or your laptop shuts down for no apparent reason in the middle of saving an important document.
Flying into a revenge tackle with the heat of the earth’s core, Garnacho pole-axed his adversary and donned his invisibility cloak to avoid both a yellow card and police caution.
Was it big and clever? Absolutely not. But was it very, very funny? Absolutely yes.
— follow @TenHagBall (@g7nachoooo) June 19, 2023
“He is a very humble boy,” goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said after the game against Australia last week.
“He came, he works, he doesn’t talk much. He comes in eager to play. He is a little star, hopefully we will help shape him and he gives us a lot like Angel Di Maria.”
While former United and Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron praised Garnacho’s impact this season and urged him to continue his progress next term.
“I spoke to Javier Mascherano and he fully expects him [Garnacho] to become a star,” Veron told Gambling Zone. “Playing for Manchester United at that age is not easy, but I think he has to have patience.
“He needs to work really hard, because he has the chance to become a regular player for a really big team.
“I really trust Mascherano’s words, so for him to say he is the best young talent in Argentina is a really big compliment – but it just shows his undoubted quality and he is someone who I am sure has a big future.”
Garnacho will now enjoy a short break before joining back up with the United squad for their pre-season tour of the United States. The teenager is one of several young Reds hoping to impress Erik ten Hag across the pond in the hope of more consistent football next season.
While he remains the definition of a rough diamond and a work-in-progress, Garnacho has shown enough to underline his importance for Ten Hag’s United.
And his chaotic tackle on just his second international appearance indicates he has the required fire in his belly to go far.
By Michael Lee