One man who has notably made an impact for his nation in Qatar is summer signing, Lisandro Martinez, with the aggressive centre-back having played his part in helping to steer Argentina into the quarter-finals.
Despite only starting one game in the tournament thus far – having been unable to dislodge the first-choice pairing of Cristian Romero and Nicolas Otamendi – the former Ajax man caught the eye during the recent, hard-fought triumph over Australia in the round of 16.
Having been thrust into the fray just after the interval, the 24-year-old’s most notable contribution against the Socceroos came late on as he brilliantly denied what would have been a stunning solo goal for Aziz Behich with a crucial, sliding block.
Such a timely impact has typified the form that the diminutive defender has shown since his arrival at Old Trafford back in August, having even been dubbed the Red Devils’ “player of the season” so far by journalist Samuel Luckhurst.
While Martinez’s displays on the international stage may have been no surprise as far as Erik ten Hag is concerned, the Dutchman may well have been intrigued by the performances of another United asset in the form of Facundo Pellistri.
Bizarrely, the 20-year-old starlet has emerged as a key figure for his native Uruguay in recent times – with ten caps to his name to date – despite having never featured for the Premier League side in a competitive game since joining from Penarol back in the summer of 2020.
Following that deadline day capture – for a reported fee of around £9m – the winger has since been on the periphery at the Theatre of Dreams, albeit while also spending 18 months on loan at La Liga side Alaves.
While the youngster hardly pulled up any trees in Spain having failed to register a single goal or assist in 35 games, he has showcased his quality with his displays on the world stage, with the hope being that Ten Hag has sat up and taken notice.
The pacy forward featured in all three of his nation’s group games in the competition, having looked particularly “lively” off the bench in the defeat to Portugal, in the words of commentator Ally McCoist.
The £20k-per-week gem also played his part in what proved to be an ultimately futile win over Ghana in the final group encounter, notably seeing his whipped cross fall to the feet of Luis Suarez in the build-up to Giorgian De Arrascaeta‘s opener.
That performance was notably lauded by the Daily Mail’s Max Matthews, who stated that ‘Manchester United could have a player on their hands’ with Pellistri having been a ‘threatening outlet’ down the right flank.
That role has been something of a problem area back at Old Trafford with arguably only Brazilian ace Antony a comfortable fit on that side of the attack, with the Uruguayan menace seemingly deserving of a chance to prove his worth at first-team level.
On the evidence of his displays over the past few weeks, United could well live to regret it if they allow Pellistri to move on, rather than giving him the opportunity to stake his claim for a more prominent role in the side.