Mason Greenwood is knocking on the door at Manchester United.
The young striker, just 17, has already been name-checked by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in press conferences, signed his first professional contract in October and was included in the squad for the summer tour of the United States.
Solskjaer, talking of Greenwood at the end of January, said, per Manchester Evening News: “We have quite a few talents in that youth team that you’d like to see and you probably will see at some point before next season.
“Because that’s what it’s about now, for me to put the club and put the team in a good position when at the end of the season, how do we look like, what will we look like next season.
“Mason, Jimmy Garner, Ethan [Laird], there’s quite a few in that reserve team that are doing well, it’s just about the right time.
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“We’ve got players now; Alexis [Sanchez], Rom [Lukaku], Juan [Mata], who didn’t play or haven’t played so much lately, they’re three players you’ve got to jump ahead of as well and we’re here to get results as well.”
That is both a promise and a challenge from Solskjaer, who appears to have one eye on the future, despite not being confirmed as United’s permanent manager just yet.
As the season progresses, Greenwood will hope to be involved, having enjoyed a phenomenal goal-scoring season in the Under-18 Premier League, where his stats are quite simply outrageous.
In 10 games, he has scored 13 goals and also provided four assists. He has five goals in as many games in the UEFA Youth League and also scored three in two in the FA Youth Cup, along with one in two in the Premier League 2.
There appears to be no level at which he cannot play. Equally adept at playing as a left winger as a centre-forward, Greenwood has scored a total of 32 goals in 30 games for the Under-18s, five in five for the UEFA Under-19 side and one in two for the Under-23s.
He has also been capped at Under-17 and Under-18 level by England and has scored for both.
Greenwood, under Jose Mourinho, was included in the squad to face Valencia in the Champions League in Spain but did not play.
Solskjaer, however, has confirmed that he is nearing a debut, telling the MEN later in January: “You’ve got to remember that he’s only 17. He’s knocking on the door to get his first appearance and they’ve got a Youth Cup game against Brighton this coming week [on Monday] as well.”
Greenwood did not score in that game, but he netted a phenomenal hat-trick in the previous round as United saw off Chelsea 4-3.
He has failed to score for the Under-18s just three times this season, and has also netted four braces, along with a hat-trick in another 4-3 win, against Blackburn Rovers.
Marcus Rashford, of course, is the example that Greenwood will hope to follow – the academy kid is now a key first-team star.
Naturally, it has to be baby steps, and Solskjaer is right to hold off on handing the striker his debut, but he is getting closer and closer, and will surely be in the first-team soon enough.
United fans have every reason to be excited.