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Manchester United starlet Alejandro Garnacho has carried his meteoric rise into the summer with a number of outstanding performances for the Argentina U20’s at the 2022 Toulon Tournament.
The 17-year-old Argentine enjoyed an excellent breakout season in United’s youth ranks in 2021/22 before being introduced into the senior fold in the latter stages of the campaign.
Garnacho led the Reds’ U18’s to FA Youth Cup glory with a brace in the 3-1 final win over Nottingham Forest in May before logging 11 minutes in United’s final game of the season, a 1-0 loss against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. He was in the matchday squad several times prior — including a stoppage time cameo debut against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
The crafty winger, who will turn 18 on July 1, jetted off to represent the Albiceleste's U20 side at the popular youth tournament full of confidence and it showed abundantly in his performances.
After staying relatively quiet in the tournament opener, Garnacho came alive in the second game — netting the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Panama. The Academy standout latched onto an excellent through ball with a run in behind the opposition back line before placing a neat, right footed effort into the top right corner.
A spectacular individual performance followed as Argentina were put to the sword by France, 6-2. Garnacho restored some pride for the South Americans with a wonderful brace. The first was the highlight — a peach of a strike from a free kick 25-yards out that arrowed into the top left corner. The second was a coolly slotted penalty.
Garnacho’s fourth in as many games came in a 3-2 win against Japan. The emerging United star put his side ahead in the first half with a trademark finish after receiving the ball just outside of the box, inside the left channel. Squaring up the defender, Garnacho turned his opponent inside and out before drilling a left footed effort low beyond the keeper. A move eerily similar to his second goal against Forest.
The young Argentine’s international antics will go down a treat with his representatives as a new contract to reward his development is currently being discussed.
Garnacho’s development is trending on an upward trajectory, similar to many exceptional United academy talents of the past. The 17-year-old just won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award — an honour previously boasted by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Elanga.
Naturally, being highly touted at this age doesn’t mean much just yet. There is plenty of work still to do. But the amount of early success experienced by Garnacho should bode really well for the future.
An inspiring last year also included a senior Argentina call-up after spending the first half of his teens as a Spanish youth international. Garnacho was born in Madrid but his performances at United inclined the Argentina officials to take advantage of his dual citizenship and invite him to train with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, and co.
At this stage, it seems like Garnacho has all but pledged his loyalty to the two time World Cup winners and 15 time Copa America champions. There are certainly worse circumstances to be in than being mentored by Messi at international level and Cristiano Ronaldo at the club.
It remains to be seen how quickly Garnacho’s contract negotiations with United get resolved but as of now, nothing less than a new and improved deal is expected.
History would suggest that every United boss post Sir Alex has had a promising youngster that they brought into the first-team with them. David Moyes had Adnan Januzaj, Louis van Gaal had Rashford, Jose Mourinho had Scott McTominay, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had Mason Greenwood and most recently, Ralf Rangnick showed a ton of trust in Elanga.
Time will tell whether Garnacho will be Erik ten Hag’s choice. With the squad undergoing a makeover, the teenager figures to feature quite prominently on United’s pre-season tour and it should not be in the least surprising if he does play his way into the Dutch coaches plans.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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