Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has already showcased his willingness to promote young talent during his brief time at Old Trafford thus far, with the Dutchman having notably brought the likes of Alejandro Garnacho, Zidane Iqbal and Charlie McNeill into the first-team fold.
The 52-year-old’s fondness for turning to the academy had seemingly been a key factor in his appointment at the end of last season, with technical director John Murtough noting his “commitment to youth” in the club’s statement confirming his capture.
The former Ajax boss had showcased that ‘commitment’ during his time in Amsterdam, having assembled an immensely talented young side that stormed to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, bettering the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the last four.
The average age of the Eredivisie outfit’s squad that season was just 23, with the average age of the defensive unit having been especially fresh-faced at just 22.8, spearheaded by the colossal presence of then-teenager, Matthijs de Ligt.
The Netherlands international – who recently moved to Bayern Munich after a three-year spell in Turin – was one of the more notable academy success stories in Ten Hag’s side, with the towering centre-back having even been handed the captain’s armband in 2018 despite his youth.
That was a marker of not only the 6 foot 2 gem’s quality, but also the trust in which the current Red Devils’ boss had placed in him, as he ultimately made 55 appearances during that 2018/19 season, scoring an impressive seven goals and laying on four assists from his centre-back berth.
While the £63m-rated star had not been handed his debut by Ten Hag – with that having come under Peter Bosz in 2016 – he was certainly a player whom the one-time Utrecht coach had put a lot of faith in, with the time now to find another De Ligt-esque talent in the United ranks.
One standout candidate is seemingly that of 17-year-old, Tyler Fredricson, with the impressive youngster having already been training with Cristiano Ronaldo et al in the senior set-up in recent weeks, notably earning a place on the bench for the Europa League clash with Real Sociedad.
The England U18 international is still waiting to make his first-team bow, although had played a crucial role in last season’s FA Youth Cup triumph, starting all five game’s in the build-up to the final, only to cruelly miss the showpiece through injury.
The current campaign has seen the teen sensation feature five times in all competitions thus far, including in the 2-1 win over Carlisle United in the EFL Trophy, earning praise from journalist Nathan Ridley for his willingness to “soldier on” in De Ligt-like fashion despite picking up a knock in the clash.
The Manchester-born starlet only recently signed his first professional contract with the club back in May, with the young centre-back certainly one to keep an eye over the coming months and years, with it set to be no real surprise if Ten Hag does hand him a chance sooner rather than later.
As he saw with the case of De Ligt, age truly can be just a number if the player is good enough. In this case, Fredricson could well be.