Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has already shown a willingness to promote from within in his early Old Trafford tenure thus far, carrying on a great tradition at the club which has seen promising youth talents continually step up into the first team.
The name on everybody’s lips at present is that of 18-year-old starlet, Alejandro Garnacho, with the fleet-footed forward having forced his way into the first-team reckoning so far this term, following his FA Youth Cup final heroics at the tail end of last season.
While excitement is rightly brewing regarding the Argentina youth international, there is another South American star in Ten Hag’s ranks who is also deserving of senior action in the form of Facundo Pellistri.
Although not truly an academy product – having been signed from Penarol on a £9m deal two years ago – the 20-year-old is still an exciting prospect at the club who is yet to earn his chance thus far, with a competitive senior outing having eluded him thus far.
The promising winger had arrived following a hectic end to the 2020 summer window, joining a spate of late additions that included Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles and Amad Diallo, as well as Donny van de Beek.
In truth, it’s hard to argue that any of those deals truly worked out, with Cavani no longer at the club; Telles and Diallo currently on loan at Sevilla and Sunderland, respectively, and with Van de Beek still a peripheral figure at the Theatre of Dreams.
Unlike many of those names, however, Pellistri still seemingly has time on his side to make an impact with the Premier League outfit, with the club’s Europa League commitments potentially offering an ideal chance to impress.
The £2.25m-rated man had appeared to be heading out on loan in the recent window – after an 18-month temporary stint at Alaves – only for injury to halt his chances of a departure, with that possibly set to prove a sliding doors moment if he can stake his claim in the coming months.
Although he had hardly pulled up any trees during his time in Spain – failing to record a single goal contribution – the youngster had previously caught the eye during his time in his native Uruguay, scoring twice and laying on four assists in 37 games prior to his move to England.
Somewhat bizarrely, despite failing to feature for United, the £19k-per-week ace has already forced his way into the senior set-up for his country, having recorded three assists in just seven appearances to date, with that a marker of just how highly regarded he is.
His compatriot Ronald Araujo has only recently lauded the forward for his quality, with the Barcelona star suggesting that Pellistri has been somewhat “surprising” with regards to how good he actually is, going on to also dub him “spectacular.”
Already impressing at international level, it would be odd for Ten Hag and co to continue to overlook the attacking menace, particularly with the Uruguayan ace offering the ability to feature on the right flank, with summer addition Antony seemingly the only other natural fit in that role in the current squad.
Pellistri already showed the former Ajax boss what he can do in pre-season – having netted in the 4-0 demolition of Liverpool in Bangkok – with now the time to unleash him properly ahead of what will be a hectic fixture schedule over the next month or so.