Erik ten Hag reveals special plan for wonderkid Alejandro Garnacho to Man Utd staff

Erik ten Hag has told senior staff at Old Trafford he intends to fast-track teen sensation Alejandro Garnacho’s Manchester United career.

The incoming Dutch boss is looking to the future in every sense as he counts down the days to starting his new role. And Ten Hag is already planning for 17-year-old Garnacho, signed from Atletico Madrid in 2020, to play a much bigger role next season.

There was little to excite suffering United fans last season except the emergence of the young Spaniard who finished the campaign with a bang by scoring twice in the FA Youth Cup final as the young reds won the trophy for the first time in 10 years.

And Garnacho, who was given a first-team debut by Ralf Rangnick against Chelsea at the end of the season followed by an outing in the final game at Crystal Palace, didn’t stop there. The Madrid-born youngster, who has opted to play for Argentina due to his mother’s heritage having played at youth level for Spain , wowed at the recent Maurice Revello tournament in Toulon.

He was joint second leading scorer with four goals in four games as Argentina’s U-20 side – coached by former Liverpool star Javier Mascherano – finished fifth. “Alejandro is a great player with a lot of potential for growing” said Mascherano. “It is clear that by playing in the club he plays for, and above all the importance his club gives him for the future, it is up to him to show what he is capable of.”

That’s a clear message from the South Americans that they believe Garnacho is ready to play regularly for United despite his tender age. That came after he was called up with Lionel Messi and co. for the full national squad in March, although he didn’t feature in those games.

National boss Lionel Scaloni is already excited by Garnacho’s potential – as are stars like Messi who was said to be impressed by the teenager’s ability and confidence when he trained with the senior side. So too were scouts from Europe’s top clubs who flocked to the South of France for the Revello tournament.

And that’s why United are currently prioritising close a new six-year deal for the youngster who will be given a chance to shine by Ten Hag next season. The Dutch coach already knows plenty about Garnacho having asked for a detailed report on the teenager from Academy head Nick Cox.

Sources at United’s Aon training complex at Carrington say club officials even set up Ten Hag with a subscription to the club’s own media channel MUTV so he could watch a re-run of the FA Youth Cup final in Holland recently.

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New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has run the rule over some of the club's youngsters who won the FA Youth Cup last season


New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has run the rule over some of the club’s youngsters who won the FA Youth Cup last season

Ten Hag was keen to see United’s U-18 talent – but his main focus was on Garnacho. Former United full back Arthur Albiston, an FA Cup winner and Scotland World Cup star, closely watches the club’s emerging stars in his role as an Academy analyst on MUTV.

He’s followed Garnacho’s rise – and is hoping the Spaniard can join an elite band of stars like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney who transferred their prodigous youth talent onto the big stage for United.

“I’ve watched his development and he’s now catching the eye without a doubt because he’s adding goals to his game. He’s a very talented lad and can come off both wings and cut inside because he’s got two good feet. That’s a problem for defenders because he’s capable of going by you on both sides of the pitch. He’s got good balance, moves well and clearly has a sound temperament.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids coming through at United who have ability but playing in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford is another level and not all of them can handle that. Garnacho looks like he can. He stepped up with no problem when United had a penalty in the FA Youth Cup Final against Forest. He won the penalty with some sharp play then tucked it away as cool as you like in front of the Stretford End.”

But Albiston has been more even more impressed with Garnacho’s physical toughness. “As a winger he was getting some rough treatment from defenders but he didn’t hide. He was getting kicked but he kept going and showed he won’t be bullied.

“That’s a good mentality to have. That’s probably why he’s already making waves in Argentina and you’ve got to be good to get into that squad. Now he’s got to take the next step – and follow guys like Giggs, Scholes and Rooney who delivered on their talent and made it big at United.”

It’s understood Ten Hag was also impressed by fiery French-born Tunisian midfielder Hannibal Mejbri who was also given game time at the end of the season. Mejbri, 19, also had a sparkling end to the season with Tunisia last week winning the Kirin Cup in Osaka with a 3-0 win over Japan.

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