If you told Manchester United fans in the summer of 2021 that Alejandro Garnacho would become their beacon of hope, they would raise an eyebrow. If not, they’d be laughing at your face.
The club just got their star target Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. Moreover, Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford for a second Premier League stint. Fans believed the team could finally compete for the league title with the squad they put together.
However, they enter 2023 without even a sniff of the Premier League title. Erik ten Hag took Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s place on the sideline. Sancho hasn’t performed in the same way that made him the most valuable youngster at the BVB. Ronaldo left the club while burning bridges along the way.
Football observers at OKBET were beginning to think United would again be struggling to find a suitable striker to lead the line. While Ronaldo is far from his peak, he was able to bag goals under Ten Hag.
Garnacho may have changed the overall tone of the club, though. The 18-year-old displays an incredible knack for scoring, something the Red Devils need now that they are a striker down. He’s also brandishing the class and confidence of a young CR7 as he makes the red side of Manchester swoon.
This piece will examine who this young United star is, how he’s playing in the senior team, and whether the wunderkind’s former club will come knocking for him.
Alejandro Garnacho was a hit for the Red Devils’ youth team from the moment he was signed from Atletico Madrid’s youth team in 2020 for €465,000. It was difficult for the Dutch coach not to notice the Argentine teenager with the amount and quality of scoring he was producing for the team’s youth teams.
The winger has a style that plenty of United players love. He uses his explosive pace to get past defenders and run into the goal. His scoring instincts and finishing ability are also top-class. He’s also shown the physicality to endure the rough defenders of the English game.
Given how well he’s been scoring with the Little Devils, it was only a matter of time before the first-team manager was going to give him a run of games. His heroics against Fulham in the Premier League gave fans a quick taste of what they could expect.
He immediately made his impact after coming in as a 72nd-minute substitute for Anthony Martial. His time came at the end of the match.
Garnacho received the ball from Christian Eriksen on the left wing. He immediately engaged the Danish teammate in a one-two, and Eriksen placed the ball in a spot he could reach. He rushed past the Fulham defense and placed the ball into the goal.
Bernd Leno couldn’t stop the ball from going in. The 18-year-old immediately took off his shirt and celebrated madly at Craven Cottage.
What Alejandro Garnacho showcased in that Fulham game is the mentality of a Manchester United player. Gary Neville explained that the teenage winger has the arrogance and energy expected of a Red Devil.
He’s had a solid first season so far. As of late January, he has two goals and three assists across 14 appearances.
Alejandro Garnacho is Argentinian, so he grew up seeing Lionel Messi play incredible football for Barcelona and La Albiceleste. He was even invited to Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina squad during the most recent World Cup qualifiers.
With all of these facts in mind, it may seem strange that the Manchester United starlet’s favorite player is Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo is the polar opposite of everything Messi has been so far. Ronaldo takes up space with his play and braggadocio, while Messi lets his playing do the talking. CR7 loves running to the keeper and smashing the ball past him, while La Pulga will orchestrate beautiful team football to get to the goal.
However, it’s evident with his playing style and number of choice that he absolutely adores Ronaldo. The Manchester City youngster couldn’t stop gushing over Portugal’s leading all-time scorer.
He celebrated his penalty at the 2022 FA Youth Cup Final with Ronaldo’s signature SIU. Garnacho also shared a picture of him with his former teammate on Instagram. He was even caught wearing CR7-brand underwear.
While he recognizes that Messi is Argentina’s captain, Ronaldo reigns as his all-time favorite player.
Given the obvious talent United has on its hands, it’s no surprise that contract talks between the club and Eugenio Ascari, Alejandro Garnacho’s agent, are already underway. They want to secure his services beyond the summer of 2024 and potentially build a team around him.
However, Atletico Madrid may be looking at getting their young star back. Reports emerged that the hierarchy at the Wanda Metropolitano regretted their decision to let the teenager leave the club after his wonderful performances at Old Trafford.
A move back to Spain may be appealing to Garnacho. United has plenty of talented players in his position. Besides Sancho and Martial, Marcus Rashford and Antony are other first-class players competing for minutes in Ten Hag’s team.
It’s unlikely United will let Garnacho without a fight, though. He’s shown in his limited appearances that his talent, while raw, is for real. They’ll do everything possible to ensure a talented teen like Garnacho stays a Red Devil.
The future looks bright for Garnacho. He has the technical skills and personality to thrive in a big club like Manchester United. Throughout his performances this season, he’s also shown that his talent shouldn’t be underestimated.
As long as he maintains the right mentality and focuses on becoming the best version of himself, it’s not hard to imagine him becoming the face of the Red Devils the same way his idol was.
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