Eight academy wonderkids who could save Man Utd millions in transfer market
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Ralf Rangnick was supposed to be Manchester United's knight in shining armour, but it's fair to say his Red Devils rescue hasn't gone to plan.
Following the German football guru's appointment back in November, all the talk was of United entering the dawn of a new era and finally finding themselves back on the path of the glory days of old.
However, the reality has seen a very different narrative.
Having thus far failed to implement his famous philosophy, Rangnick is now reportedly dealing with a broken dressing room and a number of disillusioned players as United's woes have worsened.
Amid reports that as many as 11 of the club's first-team players are unhappy, including star man Cristiano Ronaldo, a mass exodus is predicted during this month and over the summer as grand changes appear imminent at Old Trafford.
With the club's prestigious academy offering a glimmer of hope for the future, Daily Star Sport takes a closer look at some of United's most promising youngsters who could break through and save the club millions in the transfer market.
With 16 United first-team appearances under his belt having been handed his professional debut in an FA Cup third round win over Reading two years ago this month, Chong is one of the most experienced of the current crop.
Plucked from the Feyenoord youth system as a 16-year-old back in 2016, the player dubbed as ‘the Curaçao Arjen Robben' in Rotterdam spent stints on loan at Werder Bremen and Club Brugge last campaign, before linking up with Birmingham this season.
After swiftly establishing himself as a fan favourite at St Andrew's, a freak training injured sustained in October has put the 22-year-old's season on hold, but as he nears full fitness again, Chong will be hoping to kick on in the second half of the campaign and earn another shot at Old Trafford next season.
Which of these Manchester United youngsters do you think will be the most successful? Let us know in the comments section.
And Chong isn't the only United youngster currently honing his skills at the West Midlands club as he's recently been joined at St Andrew's by fellow academy star Mengi.
The 19-year-old centre-back made his first-team United debut as a late substitute in a Europa League clash with LASK Linz in August 2020 before gaining experience on-loan at Derby in the Championship during the tail end of last season, under the guidance of United legend Wayne Rooney.
"He has been fantastic for us and we’ve seen him grow with each game," Rooney revealed after Mengi's loan was cut short due to injury. “We will keep in contact with United and Teden about next season."
Prior to the defender's Birmingham deal, Rangnick provided Mengi with another European outing in the Red Devil's Champions League dead rubber against Young Boys earlier in the season, which is a testament to Mengi's growing reputation.
Tunisia's elaborate unveiling of Mejbri after the midfielder opted to represent the country of his parents over France, the nation of his birth, tells you all you need to know about how highly-rated the 18-year-old is.
The wonderkid, who was nurtured at the famous Clairefontaine academy before joining United from Monaco back in 2019, made his first-team bow against Wolves in the final Premier League match of last season and looks set for further action once he returns from this month's African Cup of Nation.
"I’m fully aware that we have another good, highly-talented player coming from our youth ranks [in Mejbri]," Rangnick told the United club website last month. "Hopefully after the Africa Cup of Nations he can regularly train and be part of our group."
'If you're good enough, you're old enough' is an age-old adage that sums up Shoretire's United career so far.
The forward, who doesn't turn 18 until next month, created UEFA Youth League history when he featured at the tender age of 14 before breaking records with the first team as the club's youngest player to ever make an appearance in Europe, four days after his professional debut against Newcastle last February.
A huge future lies ahead for a player who has already received plaudits from United great Paul Scholes, and having been with the club since the age of nine, Shoretire will certainly know what it means to pull on the United shirt.
"Shoretire looks a really big prospect," Scholes admitted after the talented teenager made history against Real Sociedad in the Europa League last season. "I think he’s a player that can play on either side, cutting in, not really a wide player, but capable of scoring goals."
Arguably the most likely of the player's listed to break into the United first-team fold, Elanga already boasts a Premier League goal to his name having headed in the opener in the Red Devils' 2-1 Premier League win over Wolves on the final day of last season.
The 19-year-old winger, who has netted an impressive seven strikes in eight appearances for Sweden's Under-21s, has featured six times overall for United and looks set to play a key role in the club's future having penned a long-term deal last March.
"Elanga has enormous potential," Solskjaer stated following his Wolves strike last season. "He is a lad who wants to learn. He works really hard and offers pace and directness.
"He's right footed but equally as good on his left. His future is bright. I know I can trust him to keep his feet on the ground and make the most of his talent."
Despite only being 20 year's of age, Garner already has a wealth of experience under his belt having made over 60 Championship appearances during spells with Watford and Nottingham Forest over the past two seasons.
With United's central midfield considered an area of weakness, Garner will be looking to impress during the second half of this campaign at Forest and will hope to add to his seven United first-team outings, which included three in the Europa League, when he returns to Old Trafford next season.
"I believe he's got the chance to have a great future," former manager Solskjaer said of the midfielder back in 2019. "He knows we believe in him, we've got great faith in him as the next Michael Carrick."
Son to former Wales midfielder Robbie, Charlie Savage hit the headlines when he made his first-team bow in United's Champions League clash with Young Boys earlier in the season, as his teary-eyed father commentated on the match.
Having been at the club since the age of four, an 18-year-old Savage was delighted to make his debut and will be hoping his open-minded attitude will see him rewarded with further first-team opportunities in United's much-maligned midfield.
"First and foremost, he's a great kid," revealed Savage senior. "He'll do everything. Listen, he's a good player, he's got a great left foot, he can pass the ball in between the lines and what he's got, whether Ralf Rangnick plays a 4-2-2-2, he can run."
How can United fans not be excited about the prospect of a box-to-box midfielder named Zidane waiting in the wings?
The 18-year-old, who has been at United since the age of nine, was another to be handed his United first-team debut by Rangnick in the Young Boys encounter earlier this season.
The Iraqi youngster has featured heavily for his nation's youth teams, too, even captaining their U23 side, and if the comments of his former Sale United coach Stewart Hamer are anything to go, Iqbal has a very bright future for club and country ahead of him.
"There were times when we would play six-a-side competitions and he would be basically ripping it up," Hamer told MEN last month. "We would take him off and substitute him because it wasn’t fair to the other side."
If Zidane has half the career of his French namesake, United have some player on their hands.
- Manchester United FC
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