With so much in the air about the footballing calendar it’s hard to get excited about next season when you don’t know when it’s going to happen.
The arrival of Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford has made a huge difference, and it seems like there are plenty of reasons to be positive for the Man United fans just now.
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Recent history suggests they won’t spend a ridiculous amount of money in the transfer market to prepare for next season, so the tradition of bringing some youngsters through will likely continue.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five youngsters who could step up and become a major part of the team next season.
The young keeper has impressed at Sheffield United this season so it will be interesting to see what United have planned. On his day, David de Gea is still one of the best keepers in the world, but he’s also had some absolute howlers this season. That suggests some competition might force him to up his game, but it would stunt Henderson’s development if he had to sit on the bench. The Spaniard has looked to move home before, and Real Madrid need to upgrade between the sticks, so it’s easy to see United cashing in and putting a lot of trust in Henderson after an impressive debut season in the top flight.
His situation is a strange one – he’s been spoken about so highly for a while now but first team action has evaded him for most of this season. There have been rumblings that a contract dispute has been a major reason for that, so if he commits to a new contract then next season could be his chance to break through. The presence of Bruno Fernandes and possibly Paul Pogba back in the team would take most of the creative burden away from Gomes, which would leave him free to show what he can do. It also looks like it’s finally time for Jesse Lingard to move on, so Gomes would be the ideal player to promote into that spot.
Although he’s been on the periphery of the first team for a while, there’s a clear need for a centre-back to step up and show they can be the long term partner for Harry Maguire. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling look like they will make permanent exits this Summer, Victor Lindelof is inconsistent while Eric Bailly’s tendency to be rash should rule him out as being first choice for now. Tuanzebe has struggled with injuries but he’s shown he has pace, he’s capable on the ball and can cover anywhere across the back line. We’ve also seen Solskjaer plump for a back three at times, so this could be the perfect chance for him to step up.
Garner’s future might depend on what happens with Pogba and any possible signings this Summer, but he’s looked ready to break through for a while now. Again he could benefit from some senior players stepping up and taking the attention away from any youngsters who get to play. He’s shown the capability for the U23’s to control the game and even score some spectacular goals, so a pairing of him and McTominay behind Fernandes might seem youthful, but it also has the potential to be a solid base for years to come.
Another player who’s promised a lot without really delivering, he’s actually started to show flashes when he’s had chances lately. He looked dreadful in the Europa League earlier in the campaign, and he’s another one with a contract situation up in the air, but if he stays then it’s time to step up. It looks like Lingard and Pereira aren’t good enough for this level, so there’s nothing to lose with giving Chong a chance to prove himself. He might suffer if someone like Jadon Sancho arrives, but he’s shown enough to prove he deserves more chances.
It’s interesting that the senior players stepping up should result in the younger players facing less pressure when they do slot into the line up, so next season could see these five step up for Solskjaer as he continues to turn the club around.