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Two youth players answered Erik ten Hag challenge with fantastic pre-season performances



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Credit: IMAGO / Pro Sports Images

Erik ten Hag will be assessing the youth team options at Manchester United throughout pre-season as he looks to add a player to his first-team plans.

Four academy players started in the lineup against Leeds United on Wednesday – five if you include Amad Diallo – and they will be sure to get more chances in the remaining seven fixtures ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

It was Alejandro Garnacho who broke into the first-team squad last term. The Argentine winger made 34 appearances for United and scored five times and assisted as many.

His development into an important member of the squad for United is exactly what United is about and Ten Hag believes that pre-season is a perfect time for young players to stake their claim for a place in the first team.

“This is their moment,” the boss told MUTV. “We have to improve the squad and you can do that with transfers but also players across the academy. Man United is famous about it – bringing young kids to above, to play in the first-team.”

Ahead of next season, Ten Hag has also explained that he wants to bring at least one youth talent into his squad per season. “Last year, Garnacho, he made it. I always hope for minimum of one player to come into our squad and make minutes and even compete for starting XI position,” he added.

Interestingly, there are two players that could fit the bill to progress into the first-team next term.

Both Kobbie Mainoo and Amad Diallo are extremely talented youngsters and whilst they play in different positions, it could be between those two for who is integrated into Ten Hag’s squad next season.

United require further depth in midfield and on the right-wing which suits the pairing. Amad, 21, has impressed on loan at Sunderland, while Mainoo remained at United amid loan interest last term and is highly rated within the club.

During United’s 2-0 win against Leeds, both players excelled in the opening 45 minutes before Ten Hag made a host of changes at the break.

Mainoo oozed class in the midfield whilst Amad looked dangerous on the right wing and deserved an assist for his low-cross into Hannibal Mejbri. His replacement in Noam Emeran did also excel, however, with a goal and assist to his name in the second half but is slightly further down the line for a first-team place.

With the manager at Old Trafford looking at his options from the academy to come into the first-team next season, Amad and Mainoo have made a brilliant start to putting themselves at the forefront of their manager’s mind.