Manchester United have Ajax blueprint to follow with Alejandro Garnacho – Steven Railston



Manchester United have spent £120m on right-wingers across the last two seasons — Jadon Sancho, Amad and Facundo Pellistri — and yet it’s believed there have been conversations within Old Trafford about the need for another right-sided forward.

There are currently more pressing issues at the club, that’s for sure. United desperately need world-class signings in defensive midfield and at centre-forward, but right-wing is thought to be an area that still hasn’t been fixed, despite heavy investment. It is ironic that Sancho was signed to be that right-sight forward considering the 21-year-old has produced his strongest performances from the left.

It was never going to be easy for Sancho to adapt to the Premier League. His nationality did not guarantee he would hit the ground running in his home country, unlike some thought. You’re gifted more space and time on the ball in the Bundesliga and Sancho clearly found the transition difficult at the start of the season. That’s all changed now and he’s seemingly improving each week.

ALSO READ: Ajax expecting Erik ten Hag to join Manchester United.

Sancho producing his best form on the left has been problematic for United. Anthony Elanga and Marcus Rashford have been left to contend to start down the right and neither player has been able to make that position their own. Ralf Rangnick has preferred to use those three players in those roles, but that is set to change with the potential arrival of Ajax boss Erik ten Hag.

the Manchester Evening News understands Ajax expect Ten Hag to become United’s next manager. And, if appointed, the Dutchman will seek to implement his vision of him at the club — and that will mean uncertainty for United’s playing squad. That uncertainty will also bring opportunities for others and Ten Hag has an outstanding track record of working with young talent.

Alejandro Garnacho could be the next player to bridge the gap from United’s academy to the first team if Ten Hag arrives. Garnacho has been instrumental in United’s FA Youth Cup campaign, scoring five goals in that competition, and it’s easy to see why fans are getting excited. Garnacho training with Lionel Messi will hardly have dampened enthusiasm.

Garnacho, 17, is far from the complete article, but the talismanic nature of his performances this season suggests he could make the next step in the near future. Garnacho has been genuinely exciting to watch. Your eye is drawn immediately to him when attending a United youth game.

But where would Garnacho play in United’s three-man attack? Garnacho has predominantly played on the left wing and he couldn’t be at a better stage of his development when assessing the players ahead of him right now. When looking at United’s attacking options, it seems within everyone’s best interests to move Sancho back to the right. That would immediately bring balance.

Ten Hag could have Sancho, Elanga (he could also play at centre-forward) and Amad on the right next season, while he could use Rashford and Garnacho on the left. Those options are young and hungry. They all have a point to prove.

Rashford has always been better playing down the left channel and he’s now at crossroads in his United career. If Ten Hag returns Rashford to the left side, he’ll have a stronger chance of rediscovering his form from him and Garnacho could be his deputy from him.

At the end of the next season, if Rashford has failed to arrest his decline, Garnacho will be ready to earn a starting role. Ten Hag has built two Ajax teams with a limited budget — his most expensive signing at Ajax is Daley Blind for £14.4m (ironically from United) — and his emphasis on nurturing academy talent has underpinned his every success. That’s an incredibly endearing quality.

United will be more than aware of Ten Hag’s record of providing opportunities to players from Ajax’s academy and there’s no doubt that they would have been discussed in his interview. Ten Hag was clearly impressed when meeting United chiefs two weeks ago.

The possible appointment of Ten Hag will be warmly received by nearly all those connected with United, which extends to the club’s academy and players that are on the verge of making the senior team — just like Garnacho.

The teenager has the potential to reach the very top and Ten Hag could be the coach to get him there.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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