Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has apparently ruled out the possibility of letting the Manchester United youth players who impressed during preseason leave on loan this month. Mason Greenwood would appear to be firmly in the picture as a first-team player, despite being only 17 years old. The forward was named to the bench for the season opener on Sunday, and came on for an impressive, if brief, cameo against Chelsea. That seems to be a not just a vote of confidence from Solskjaer, but a signal of intent. The manager is even on record as saying that part of the reason he allowed Romelu Lukaku to leave was to clear a path to the first team for Greenwood.
The other youngsters to impress on tour also seem set to stay and challenge for places. Axel Tuanzebe is not only staying at United, but is now apparently the first alternative to first-choice pairing to Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf. In a pleasant surprise, Tuanzebe was named to the bench last Sunday ahead of senior center-backs Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Marcos Rojo.
Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes impressed in the summer friendlies as well, and Solskjaer has now said that they will be staying on this season as part of the first-team picture. Asked directly about loan moves for the attacking duo, the manager had this to say:
“No. To be honest, I can see them staying here and making a proper impact.
“They have already, on pre-season, and they did so in February, March and April. They did well in training but we never gave them enough game time. Pre-season has shown they have grown over the last six months and they are getting used to men’s football.
“They will get opportunities.”
That is certainly exciting news for the academy graduates. The attacking midfield and wide right positions in Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 are the most open, and those are the spots in which Chong and Gomes are able to operate. Gomes has arguably done enough in pre-season to already seriously be challenging the likes of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, while Chong is perhaps the only natural right winger in the entire squad.