Man Utd’s next academy graduates to look out for

Man Utd’s next academy graduates to look out for

The 2023/24 season has been a tough watch for Manchester United fans at times, but it will always be remembered as the breakthrough season of both Kobbie Mainoo and Willy Kambwala.

Teenage midfielder Mainoo has been dazzling fans all season, while Kambwala has stepped up during an injury crisis to show Erik ten Hag that United’s academy is bursting with talents looking to make an impact at senior level.

Here are ten more names from United’s academy to keep an eye out for.

Age: 17
Position: Left-back

While Harry Amass’ status as an academy graduate is up for debate – he joined from Watford in the summer of 2023 – what cannot be denied is his status as one of England’s most intriguing young left-backs.

Amass was called up to the bench for United’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool, and although injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia definitely aided his cause, he was more than deserving of such recognition after a dazzling campaign for Adam Lawrence’s Under-18s.

An attack-minded, athletic talent, Amass was part of Watford’s senior setup at 15 and was also the subject of interest from Chelsea before opting to take his talents to Manchester.

Mantato is making waves / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

Age: 16
Position: Winger/left-back

Bendito Mantato has really caught the eye for Lawrence’s Under-18s this season but, as you can see by his position, is still figuring out what the future holds for him at senior level.

The 16-year-old has been compared to Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, who also broke through as a left-back before establishing himself further forwards. Mantato is left-footed and incredibly versatile, and his ability to fill in in almost every position on the pitch perhaps explains why he has already trained with Erik ten Hag’s seniors.

Scouts believe Mantato will eventually settle as a winger, where his explosive ability to burst past defenders can be utilised fully.

Age: 16
Position: Winger/midfield

Shea Lacey missed four months of the current campaign through injury but, once he rediscovers his match fitness, will hope to attract the same sort of excitement that followed him before he went down.

An attack-minded midfielder who has operated wide on the right in recent times, Lacey is a real talent. His dribbling skills have astounded fans for years now and some have even described him as the one to watch in the next few years.

Lacey was born in Liverpool but defied his family to support United, even refusing to take advantage of an Anfield season ticket handed to him as a youngster because of his allegiance.

Age: 17
Position: Midfielder

One of a pair of twin sons of former United midfielder Darren Fletcher, Jack began his career at Manchester City before United parted with a significant sum to bring the two teenagers over to the other side of the city.

Fletcher has spent plenty of time training with the seniors and reports even suggest Ten Hag has been thoroughly impressed by the 17-year-old.

Often lining up in an attacking midfield role, Fletcher’s eye for a pass is one of his strongest attributes and he has already been tipped for a bright future.

Age: 17
Position: Midfielder

United spent a cool £1.25m to sign both Jack and Tyler, who play together in midfield at club level but line up against each other internationally. While Jack represents England, Tyler has regularly switched his allegiance and currently turns out for Scotland.

At the time of writing, Tyler has not yet made the same impact at Under-18 level as brother Jack, but he has still impressed behind the scenes and, having only turned 17 in March 2024, is still seen as one for the future.

Tyler has often been used in a deeper midfield role compared to Jack but does boast the skillset to play further forwards as well.

Harrison is highly rated / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Age: 18
Position: Goalkeeper

What has impressed scouts so much about Elyh Harrison is his ability with the ball at his feet. Seen as the archetypal modern goalkeeper, the 18-year-old’s skills often go viral on social media as he rarely shies away from the chance to play his way around a pressing forward.

Harrison regularly trains with the senior side and was part of the travelling squad that faced Newport County in the FA Cup, although he did not end up making the matchday team.

This season, he has been the primary starter in Travis Binnion’s Under-21 side, playing against players up to three years older than him.

Age: 16
Position: Left winger

Born in Russia but a recent England Under-15 international, United fans are right to be incredibly excited about Amir Ibragimov’s future at the club.

His name may be familiar to some as Ibragimov went viral back in March 2022 for intentionally missing a penalty which was awarded to him when he went down in the box against Tottenham. Ibragimov argued that he had not been fouled and, when the referee refused to listen to his pleas, simply passed the resulting penalty straight to the goalkeeper.

When he’s not exhibiting his honesty, Ibragimov can be found burning past defenders in both academy and senior training sessions. A fast-track to Erik ten Hag’s first team is unlikely at this point but cannot be ruled out.

Ogunneye has already made a Premier League squad / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Age: 18
Position: Right-back

United’s defensive injury issues have opened the door to right-back Habeeb Ogunneye, who has been on the bench for a handful of Premier League and FA Cup games already in his young career.

Ogunneye, who plays his youth football for England but remains eligible for Nigeria, is a natural defender but he has spoken previously about a desire to become more of an attack-minded player as he seeks to follow close friend Mainoo up to the senior side.

England officials have made an effort to show their faith in Ogunneye as they seek to convince him to commit to the Three Lions.

Williams is enjoying a breakout year / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Age: 18
Position: Left winger

Ethan Williams, who has been used anywhere on the left side of the pitch, has recently started to flex his eye for goal as a winger.

Turning out for both the Under-18s and Under-21s this season, Williams’ versatility has helped him catch the eye. While he may be a natural attacker, his defensive insticts help him when it comes to tracking back and doing the dirty work – the sort of things coaches love to see.

Williams may have a few more steps in his development before he is ready for the seniors, but club officials feel as though he is on the right track.

McAllister captains the Under-18s / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Age: 18
Position: Defensive midfielder

Under-18 captain Finley McAllister has already made a big impact for both club and country. In 2021, he became the youngest player to represent United at Under-18 level when he debuted aged 14, having also broken the Under-16 record as a 13-year-old.

A tough-tackling anchor in midfield, McAllister has also been used at right-back but it is his leadership and work rate in the heart of the pitch which have helped him cement his place in Adam Lawrence’s side.

McAllister was born in Salford and has previously been seen following United’s seniors as a fan on away days, and his passion for the club has only strengthened his bond with fans.


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