Academy ARTICLES Opinion

Manchester United’s next three breakthrough stars under Ralf Rangnick

Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford have been the latest success stories from the Manchester United youth conveyor belt, and there’s likely to be a couple more in the years coming.

After recent improvements through the academy, those that follow the Under-23s or Under-18s will be excited about the appointment of Ralf Rangnick.

The German has a large emphasis on utilising young talents in his teams. His side at RB Leipzig in 2018/19 had the youngest average age in the Bundesliga at 22.6 according to transfermarkt.

While Rangnick will almost certainly turn to the transfer market to unearth talent, whether that be during his interim stint or when he moves into the consultancy role, it is also likely that he will help bring through some of the thrilling prospects that sit in Manchester United’s ranks currently.

Amad

Talent is absolutely bursting out of the young Ivorian, who has had an interrupted campaign so far due to injury.

A loan move was on the cards at the beginning of the season, but a thigh injury meant that he remained at United to recover from the knock back.

He’s now back, and most recently was the star in a 3-2 win against Leeds U23s for Neil Wood’s side. He scored twice and assisted the other in a dramatic win.

Amad could well go out on loan in January in order to get increased game-time. But he could also remain at Old Trafford if Rangnick takes a liking to the young winger.

The German manager would possibly want another creator in his frontline arsenal. Other than Jadon Sancho, the talent pool is filled with exciting players, but none that are create-first type players — unless you push Paul Pogba up there like at the start of the season.

Amad could be the understudy to Sancho, and offer similar creative traits to the 21-year-old when he’s being rotated.

However, even if he is loaned, Amad would come back with more experience and refined skills which would see him become a clear option to integrate into the United squad next season.

Ethan Laird

Currently on loan at Swansea City, Ethan Laird has been developing his game greatly in the lower leagues.

Firstly with MK Dons in League One last season, Laird was able to complete an entire season without any real injuries, which was a worry through his youth career.

He’s now one of the most exciting wide players in the Championship, and despite his form slightly dropping off recently, the 20-year-old has still created the joint-most big chances out of any player in the Swansea squad (5). Also topping charts for successful dribbles (37) and tackles (28) among his teammates.

With Rangnick’s system at RB Leipzig often involving dynamic, attacking wingbacks, Laird could find a chance to help fill the gap next season, with a chance that Aaron Wan-Bissaka struggles under Rangnick.

If Rangnick does feel that a different option is needed at right-back, Laird could be looked at and possibly integrated into the squad. Either way, though, Rangnick will almost certainly appreciate Laird’s talent.

Hannibal Mejbri

Lastly, after missing out on making his debut last season because of injury, Hannibal Mejbri will want to step out in front of a packed Old Trafford this campaign.

While it’s doubtful that the midfielder appears in more than one or two matches this season, he will continue to show his talent in training — and will likely impress Rangnick.

Not only creative, but also very aggressive out of possession, which has previously been touted as a problem. But Rangnick is the one man you’d bet your house on turning that raw aggression inside Hannibal into gold, in his gegenpressing system.

Earlier this week, Hannibal played an hour for Tunisia against Mauritania. The 18-year-old bagged an impressive assist before being taken off.

He’s now made a handful of appearances for his country, and it will certainly be preparing him nicely for when he’s tasked with stepping up in the first team at United — which shouldn’t be long.

The decision to not send the youngster on loan this year could be down to the club wanting to take a similar route with him that they did Greenwood.

An eased transition into the first team could be what is on the cards for Hannibal, and that could possibly be fast-tracked under Rangnick, who will appreciate the abundance of talent that Hannibal possesses.

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