5 Manchester United Academy Prospects Ready to Step Up Next Season

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

5 Manchester United Academy Prospects Ready to Step Up Next Season

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    With the failure of David Moyes' tenure in just under one season, the focus now turns to the summer for Manchester United and the revamp of a squad that failed to make the Champions League. 

    Any new manager will be looking at United's youth setup when they arrive at Old Trafford to see what the depth of talent available to him is.

    And as expected, there is an array of very good teenagers already plying their trade at the club. 

    With the likes of Nick Powell and Jesse Lingard well-known amongst the United faithful, which other youngsters are ready to make the jump into first-team involvement?

    Here we take a look at five wonderful players who may get their shot in 2014-15.

Ben Pearson

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    When a kid gets labelled as being like Paul Scholes, it can usually be taken with a pinch of salt. However, 19-year-old Ben Pearson from Oldham certainly has similar qualities to the midfield master and looks ready to make the jump to the senior ranks.

    And the comparisons with Scholes are definitely evident: The teenager has the ability to play off the striker in the hole, as well as to play much deeper in midfield, controlling the play from the back of the park.

    A Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year winner, United Youth coach Paul McGuinness recently said on the club's website:

    Ben’s been outstanding. He’s an outstanding passer of the ball, a combination player and a good playmaker and link player in midfield.

    We’d like him to get forward and make more forward runs but sometimes the personnel we had meant he had to play in more of a holding role. But he’s also got the ability to snuff out danger and he’s very quick over 10-15 yards.

    Having captained England's U18 side, Pearson takes responsibility on the pitch and is looking like he's developing into the complete central midfielder. 

    With United struggling in the centre, with Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini and recently Michael Carrick all flattering to deceive, Pearson could find himself quickly promoted next season if his development can stay tightly on course.

Andreas Pereira

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    An 18-year-old Belgium talent with Brazilian origins, Andreas Pereira was recently described by Craig Hope of the Mail as "the new Januzaj."

    And the teenager's flair and quality are similar in comparison to his countryman who is just a year older than him.

    Pereira signed professional terms with United when he turned 17 years old and has continued to develop through the youth ranks at the club.

    The player captained the 2013 Milk Cup-winning United team and was voted Player of the Tournament, as reported by the club's website. He also scored three goals en route to the final.

    As a player with wonderful ability, Pereira has been rushed through the ranks at United and has already featured for the reserves and in the UEFA Youth League. 

    If he can make a similar impact in pre-season training as Januzaj did last year, the young midfielder could see himself fast-tracked to the first team. 

Jack Barmby

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    Pete Norton/Getty Images

    The son of former England international Nick Barmby, 19-year-old Jack is a prolific and explosive attacker capable of single-handedly beating an opponent. 

    Barmby arrived at Manchester United in 2008 from Hull and steadily worked his way through the academy system at Carrington.

    Capable of playing in midfield or as a striker, Barmby was loaned out to League Two club Hartlepool United and has been a huge success, scoring five goals and grabbing four assists, per ESPN FC, since his move in January.

    Barmby has huge competition at United, and it might be that he spends another year out on loan or in the worst case scenario be released.

    But should he impress the new manager, he might find himself involved at a higher level with the club sooner rather than later.

Marnick Vermijl

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    Schalk van Zuydam

    With United's full-back positions looking a bit of a mess after a disappointing season, the time could be right for Marnick Vermijl to finally make his mark in the first team.

    And the player's agent was very blunt recently when speaking about the Belgium under-21 international's immediate future, saying it would depend on whether oyes remained at the club or not, per Adam Crafton of the Mail Online.

    Speaking to Hets Nieuwsblad, Crafton reports that Vermijl's agent Tony Dullers said, in March:

    He is under contract at Manchester United until June 2015 but much will depend on the situation of David Moyes. If the manager stays, then it does not look good because he let Marnick go quite easily to NEC (on loan). If Moyes is sacked, it may open greater chances (at United).

    At Manchester United, they are very happy with his development. They want Marnick to work at a better club next season but another loan is not ideal. He will either get his chance in the first team, or move on permanently.

    The Belgian might now get his chance with the departure of the Scotsman from Old Trafford.

    The player is a right-back by trade and has been a regular in United's reserve setup for three seasons. And after a difficult year for Rafael under Moyes, the time could be right for Vermijl to get his chance.

James Wilson

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    If you are not aware of James Wilson, you soon will be.

    Wilson is the hottest prospect in United's youth system and scores goals like a machine. 

    The teenager from Biddulph made his debut for United's under-18 side when he was just 15 years old. He operates across the attack, being adept on the left and as a striker. 

    But with his eye for goal and composed finishing, it is the centre-forward position that Wilson will thrive in as he physically matures. 

    David Lynch of The Manchester Evening News recently called for Wilson's promotion to the first team, suggesting the boy should make his debut before the end of this season. 

    Wilson has already made the first-team bench this year against Newcastle during the Reds' 4-0 win at St James' Park. 

    It will not be long before we see this prodigious talent play in the colours of Manchester United in the Premier League. He is destined to follow in the footsteps of Danny Welbeck and force his way into the striking line-up.