Manchester United: 5 Youngsters Who Could Have a Big Future at Old Trafford
On Saturday, Nick Powell made his second Manchester United appearance in under a week, adding to his burgeoning reputation with another fine display during a 3-1 win over QPR at Old Trafford.
The 18-year-old sensation had starred against Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League four days earlier, hitting the bar with a bullet header and causing some to tip the midfielder for future stardom.
Of course, Powell is just one of many youngsters capable of "making it" at the Theatre of Dreams, given the club’s youth policy and Sir Alex Ferguson’s habit of trusting youth on the biggest stage.
Here, I assess five blossoming talents who might have bright futures at United ahead of them...
Making it at Manchester United is a troublesome task, yet Nick Powell is starting to make it look remarkably easy.
With a drop of a shoulder and the swipe of a boot, the 18-year-old made an instant impact in his goalscoring Old Trafford debut in September, and last Tuesday, in Istanbul, the summer-recruit enhanced his burgeoning reputation with another classy display.
Starting as part of a youthful travelling squad, the former Crewe Alexandra star took his full Reds bow at the Turk Telekom Arena, showing great courage and willingness each time he received the ball amidst the racket caused by Galatasaray’s "welcoming" crowd.
As a result, Powell has earned some comparisons to teammate Paul Scholes, a true maestro of the midfield. Realistically, of course, he cannot be expected to emulate the Reds legend as, quite simply, lightning does not strike twice. Based on the early signs, however, the future looks bright.
Fabio Da Silva
Currently on loan at QPR, Fabio da Silva is hoping to gather enough first-team experience to become a long-term star at Manchester United alongside twin brother Rafael.
The Brazilian left-back is seen by many as the true heir to Patrice Evra’s throne at Old Trafford, despite the recent arrival of Dutch defender Alexander Büttner, and might challenge for that position as early as next season when his temporary spell at Loftus Road will have ended.
Although Fabio has been in and around Ferguson’s first team for a couple of years with 53 appearances to his name, he is still a mere 22 years old. If he can match the same levels of maturity and consistency that his twin has shown this term, a positive future awaits.
One of the latest talents to roll off the Old Trafford conveyor belt, Scott Wootton has enjoyed a season to remember, having made his debut in the Capital One Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Originally a product of Liverpool’s academy before being released, the towering defender was snapped up by the Reds and has already earned comparisons to Steve Bruce this campaign.
Clearly blessed with leadership skills, Wootton is a commanding presence at the back and appears to have been blessed with unerring heading ability. His only stumbling block at United is the abundance of players ahead of him at his position.
A slight, diminutive midfielder with an eye for the pass, it is easy to see why Paul Scholes compared Manchester United youngster Jessie Lingard to Barcelona playmaker Andreas Iniesta last season.
Although that link might be a little hasty, this Reds youngster has bags of talent and the mental strength to match—two attributes best displayed in a couple of fine performances during last summer’s pre-season tour of the world.
Despite impressing over the summer, Lingard has struggled to gather first team action this season and, as a result, has been sent on loan to Championship high fliers Leicester City, where he has so far made several cameo appearances from the bench. He is, quite clearly, one to watch.
Winner of Manchester United’s Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year award for the 2010/11 season, a prize given to the Reds’ best Reserves player, Ryan Tunnicliffe is set for good things.
The tenacious midfielder, known for his impressive work rate and ferocity in the tackle, has earned comparisons to Old Trafford legend Roy Keane and is knocking on the door of the first team.
At just 19 years old, the youngster has time on his side and might be the long term successor to Darren Fletcher, a player of similar attributes and capabilities.
Such was his early promise, Tunnicliffe’s father once placed a bet that his son would one day represent United’s first team—a feat achieved earlier this season, earning a cool £10,000 prize.