Man Utd will play six pre-season friendlies this summer and a number of the club’s promising youngsters will get the chance to impress Erik ten Hag.
In the past two years, Manchester United have spent more than £100million on three right-wingers, but heading into the summer of 2022 they’re still uncertain as to who will play that role for Erik ten Hag.
The right side of United’s attack has long been a problematic position, but the 2020 acquisitions of youngsters Amad and Facundo Pellistri were the beginning of a plan to solve that. If the Ivory Coast and Uruguay youngsters were for their future, then the £73million lavished on Jadon Sancho last year was for the here and now. But Sancho struggled to settle in his first season at Old Trafford and has ended up looking better playing on the left
There’s no shortage of wide players keen to operate from that flank for United, but finding someone to fill in on the right is proving trickier. Anthony Elanga finished the season there but after scoring for Sweden this month he said he’d rather play on the left too.
One option for United to solve this problem is to make a signing, such as Ajax’s left-footed right-winger Antony, a player who would immediately add some balance to a lopsided attack. The absence of Mason Greenwood means United don’t have a left-footed option in their front three.
Strengthening the attack is a priority for Erik ten Hag this summer, but following the departure of Edinson Cavani a central striker is needed too. If United sell Anthony Martial, that would raise funds to reinvest and free up space in the squad
However Ten Hag approaches the right-wing issue, there might be an opportunity for one of Pellistri or Amad to at least earn a spot in the squad this season, given United will make changes for their Europa League campaign, especially in the group stage.
At least one of them is likely to leave on loan again next season and there’s a chance both could go back out, but Ten Hag has shown he has faith in youth and they might both get the chance to impress this summer.
Pellistri is currently playing for Uruguay in their June internationals but his loan spell at Alaves ended disappointingly, featuring in just five of their final 21 La Liga games and falling to complete 90 minutes all season. The 20-year-old looked bright last pre-season however, playing in a right-wing role.
Amad’s loan spell at Rangers in the second half of the season was similarly disappointing. The 19-year-old was hoping to get acclimatised to British football at Ibrox and he did manage three goals for the club, but starts were a rarity. He was an unused substitute for all nine of Rangers’ Europa League games en route to the final.
United committed a potential £37million to sign Amad in 2020, although only around £19million of that was up front, with the rest due in add-ons. He scored against AC Milan in United’s own run to the Europa League final in 2020/21, but hasn’t really kicked on yet, despite being one of Europe’s most highly-rated teenagers a couple of years ago.
In two years at Old Trafford neither winger has made the impact they might have expected and both will return this summer on the back of loan spells that featured more disappointment than successes.
But as Ten Hag assesses his squad across six pre-season friendlies and on the training pitches off Bangkok, Melbourne and Perth, both might get the chance to stake a fresh claim for more involvement next season.