Manchester United Youths Who Could Make Their Premier League Debuts This Season
"If they're good enough, they're old enough," is a famous quote from Sir Matt Busby. His ideas about bringing through young talent form the foundations of Manchester United.
The Busby Babes, with an average of just 22, won league titles and were on the brink of securing European glory before the tragic Munich Air Disaster.
Busby rebuilt his team, again focusing on nurturing young players and allowing them to establish themselves in the first team, and he enjoyed further success. United became the first English team to win the European Cup and added a few more trophies to the club's cabinet too.
This mentality was adopted by Sir Alex Ferguson, and he also enjoyed unimaginable glory as a result. United won the treble in 1998-99, a feat no other English team has ever managed, and he did it with a core of players who had made their way from the academy to the senior squad.
Ryan Giggs, United's current assistant manager, is a product of this philosophy. He made his full debut against Manchester City when he was just 17 and scored the game's deciding goal.
In the few matches he took charge of last season, following the sacking of David Moyes, he gave debuts to two youth team players. James Wilson scored two goals in his first game for United, while Tom Lawrence put in an energetic and brave performance on the wing.
Louis van Gaal is United's manager now, though, but fans should expect a similar approach to what has gone before. Let's not forget that Van Gaal gave debuts to Clarence Seedorf, Thomas Mueller, David Alaba and Andres Iniesta when they were teenagers.
So, of United's current crop, which youngsters should expect to make their debuts next season?
Ben Pearson, who was born in Oldham, just a few miles from Old Trafford, joined United when he was nine years old.
He has made his way up through the ranks at both club and international level, being made captain of the England U-18 team along the way.
Pearson is a fans' favourite after his gutsy performances for the U-21 team. Hailed as "the next Roy Keane" by some, Pearson is a box-to-box midfielder who likes to get stuck in as much as he likes playing a pass.
Paul McGuinness, the Manchester United Academy coach, has sung the praises of the midfielder, as reported by ManUtd.com.
He’s an outstanding passer of the ball, a combination player and a good playmaker and link player in midfield. He’s also got the ability to snuff out danger and he’s very quick over 10-15 yards.
As the winner of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2013—the prize United give out to the best young player every season—fans have been waiting for his breakthrough for some time.
With central midfield an area that United struggle in and Van Gaal keen to exploit the talent he already has available to him, Pearson should certainly get a game for the first team next season.
Andreas Pereira signed for Manchester United from PSV when he was 15 years old, after being hailed as the best young player in Europe for his position.
He turned down interest from other Premier League clubs to sign for United, claiming that it was a dream come true, as reported by ESPN.
Other British clubs were interested. I thought about it, but Manchester United is a dream club for me. I have been a few times to Manchester United to have a look. I got a tour and spoke with Sir Alex Ferguson. Being a 15-year-old and being able to talk with him is great!
Almost three years have gone by and his development has been fantastic. The attacking midfielder has shone for the U-21 team, with an excellent first touch, his ability to pick a pass and his quick, skilful feet that he loves to show off to beat a player.
It's no surprise that comparisons have been made with Adnan Januzaj, who made his breakthrough last season, with the Belgian boys both able to dazzle the crowd.
Pereira sees himself as a number 10, but it is likely that when he gets his chance it will be out wide, given the strength in depth United already have in this position.
Tyler Blackett, born in Manchester, joined United when he was just eight years old. While his height and build would make one presume he is more suitable for a central-defensive position, Blackett thrives in the left-back role.
Blackett is also handy in dead-ball situations and is capable of blasting free-kicks with great power into the back of the net.
Despite representing England at U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 level, as well as playing for Championship sides Blackpool and Birmingham on loan, Blackett hasn't been given the opportunity in United's first team.
Now 20 years old, this season is make or break for Blackett, as other players of his age can be well on the way to establishing themselves at their clubs.
Having sold Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner, United's only left-back at present is Luke Shaw, the new 18-year-old signing from Southampton. You would imagine that Van Gaal would be in the market to bring in another player in this position this summer, but as it stands, Blackett has a great chance of playing first-team football next season.