Manchester United have given plenty of minutes to academy talents this season under Ralf Rangnick, and Alejandro Garnacho could become the next to feature for the first team
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has brought teenager Alejandro Garnacho into first-team training ahead of the weekend trip to Everton.
The 17-year-old has yet to step onto the pitch for the Red Devils’ first team, but can now lay claim to having trained with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Ronaldo was back from illness as United got ready for weekend action, while Messi was joined by Garnacho in the Argentina squad during the last international break.
The Madrid-born youngster has already been the subject of an international tug-of-war, playing for Spain’s under-18s before being courted by Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni. And international bosses aren’t the only ones to recognise his quality, with Rangnick giving the midfielder a chance to impress alongside United’s senior players.
Since taking over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Rangnick has given plenty of opportunities to academy talents. Hannibal was also involved in first team training ahead of the Everton game, while others have picked up minutes in the league and in Europe.
Anthony Elanga has been the biggest success story, making his debut under Solskjaer but stepping up under Rangnick. He has three goals to his name this season, including one away at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, and made his senior Sweden debut in the recent World Cup qualifying play-offs.
While Garnacho is yet to play for United’s senior side, he has picked up minutes for their age group sides. He has two goals from 10 appearances in Premier League 2, and also featured as a sub in the Papa John’s Trophy when he replaced Zidane Iqbal, another youngster to break through under Rangnick.
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The promotion for Garnacho comes at a time of change at the top for United. Rangnick’s interim tenure was always due to come to an end after the 2021-22 season, but the club are believed to be on the verge of confirming Erik ten Hag as their next permanent manager after “advanced talks” with the Dutchman.
Rangnick, who joined shortly before the turn of the year after a spell with Lokomotiv Moscow, has long been slated to move into a consultancy role for the next two seasons. However, new details of the responsibilities have since emerged, and the former RB Leipzig manager could end up working as few as six days a month.
The promotion of players like Garnacho can be seen as an attempt to breathe new life into United’s season with their hopes of top four football fading fast. With eight games remaining, they are down in seventh – three points shy of fourth-place Arsenal, but with the London side holding a game in hand and preparing to play host to Rangnick’s men at the Emirates Stadium on April 23.