Whilst the past 10 years at Manchester United have come with plenty of conjecture, one point which fans and club officials can agree on is that glaring mistakes have been made with regard to transfers.
One of the most hotly-debated errors came exactly a decade ago, when the Red Devils lost Paul Pogba to Italian giants Juventus. The move saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s United receive an £800,000 compensation fee for developing the French talent following his arrival from Le Havre three years earlier.
For all intents and purposes, it was a free transfer, as Pogba’s contract had been allowed to expire that June – coincidentally, the same will happen this summer.
The Red Devils blamed the late super-agent Mino Raiola for turning the youngster’s head well before the deal was done, but the fact that United were unable to successfully anticipate such a scenario (before buying him back for a world-record £89million transfer fee in 2016) is damning indictment of the club’s deep-rooted issues – and they’re about to be reminded of that humiliating saga.
Juventus are back in another Red Devils academy graduate, the highly-rated Alejandro Garnacho. Poached from hometown club Atletico Madrid two years ago, the 17-year-old winger was a star in United’s run to winning the FA Youth Cup this year, just as Pogba did weeks before packing his bags for Turin in 2012.
Garnacho’s sensational season, typified by 10 goals contributions in seven games on the way winning the cup, was a rare highlight in a dismal season at Old Trafford, making fans even more excited for what the future holds for him under new manager Erik ten Hag. But the Dutch tactician will have to fight to keep hold of the Argentina youth international, who oped to represent La Albiceleste over Spain in the first tug of war since joining the Red Devils.
Another is on the horizon, as Italian outlet Calciomercato, via Sport Witness, reports that Juventus are plotting to repeat their Pogba trick. That’s because Garnacho’s contract expires in June 2023 – a mere 12 months from now – and the Serie A side, along with their rivals, are admirers of his supreme talents. The Mail reported last month that the starlet was in line for a bumper new deal after his exploits in the academy, but silence has followed.
Supporters and coaches alike have raved about Garnacho’s potential, having appeared twice in the Premier League before the end of a traumatic 2021-22 season at Old Trafford. United will no-doubt have high hopes for the teenager but won’t want to be pay another world-record sum after letting him slip away to the Bianconeri’s clutches a la Pogba.
Judging by both former interim manager Ralf Rangnick and head of academy Nick Cox’s comments, the 20-time English champions see Garnacho as part of the club’s future.
“I know that he is one of [the club’s] most promising players,” Rangnick declared in April. “He [is] still only 17, but a player that hopefully, if he keeps his feet on the ground, if he keeps trying to get better every day, then he will not only be sitting on the bench but there is every chance he will be playing for this club.”
Cox, meanwhile, told manutd.com after the speedster was handed the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Under-18 Player of the Year award: “Alejandro has had a fantastic season and really deserves this recognition. There have been a number of Under-18s players who have performed exceptionally well throughout the year.
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“Reaching an FA Youth Cup final is a fantastic achievement, so this was not an easy decision to make. Alejandro has shown great determination from the day that he arrived here from Spain, in the middle of a pandemic. He has adapted extremely well to life in Manchester and continues to improve on the pitch every day.
“Making his first-team debut last month was the culmination of a great deal of hard work from Alejandro himself, his family and a dedicated group of Academy staff. The call-up that he received from Argentina is another fantastic indicator of the progress he has made this season. He remains grounded considering all that he has achieved this year and we know that he will continue to grow within our youth development system.”