Manchester United are facing fixture congestion throughout February and March, with the Old Trafford side into the Carabao Cup final, the knockout stages of the Europa League and still pushing for an unlikely Premier League title challenge.
Erik ten Hag will head into tomorrow’s clash against Leeds United having had to deal with a triple injury blow, with Antony, Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay all set to be ruled out of the match, and this may give the Dutchman the chance to tinker with his starting XI.
Indeed, with the Brazilian attacker missing out, there could be an opportunity on the right flank. With Uruguayan youngster Facundo Pellistri making his Premier League debut against Leeds in midweek, Ten Hag could throw him in from the very start, and unleashing the 21-year-old’s potential may save the club millions in the future.
Could Pellistri save Man United millions?
United signed Pellistri from Atletico Penarol in 2020 after he made 37 appearances for the Uruguayan club, and he was thrust straight into the Red Devils’ U21 side.
An encouraging spell which saw the winger score three goals and register an assist in just nine appearances for the U21s gave him the chance to join then-LaLiga outfit Alaves for the next 18 months on loan in order to experience some top-flight football.
Despite their relegation, Pellistri made 21 appearances in 2021/22. Although he received a modest Sofascore rating of 6.48/10, which ranked him as the club’s third-worst performer, it was a spell which gave him some much-needed game-time in one of the continent’s best leagues, and he has clearly impressed Ten Hag.
The 21-year-old made the matchday squad on numerous occasions before he was given his United debut against Charlton in the Carabao Cup last month. He even grabbed an assist that night, and Ten Hag brought him on for the final 30 minutes against Leeds in midweek.
He was praised by analyst Iseunife Ajayi on Twitter, who said following that 2-2 draw (the Uruguayan’s fourth senior Red Devils appearance): “I really don’t know why Pellistri doesn’t play for us more often. Man is a proper baller!”
It might just be just a tad too soon for Pellistri’s first start for the club, especially when securing all three points tomorrow is vital. However, United is a club which thrives in giving plenty of opportunities to youth talent, and he clearly is good enough to play a bigger part under Ten Hag.
Whatever happens, the winger could well save United a fortune in the near future due to his enormous talent, which would preclude the club from needing to splurge on another winger in the transfer market.