Nemanja Matic has tipped one Academy star to hit the Manchester United first team in the next few seasons.
Matic, who has one of his own children in the United Academy, believes that Anthony Elanga could make a breakthrough into the senior set-up very shortly. Elanga’s first-team opportunities have been at a premium this season with just 17 minutes afforded to him by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The 19-year-old played the closing minutes of the recent EFL Cup defeat to West Ham.
He made his full United debut against Leicester in the Premier League last season in May and played the full 90 minutes on the final day of the season against Wolves.
Solskjaer also turned to Elanga in pre-season, but after the summer arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo United’s attacking options have been swelled.
Ronaldo has started four of the five Premier League games he has been eligible for, while Sancho has made seven appearances in the league despite a slow start to life at Old Trafford.
The additions have meant that Elanga has been shunted down the pecking order and has been playing in the Premier League 2 side.
Elanga has scored four goals in four games for the U23 side and grabbed one assist.
And Matic, 33, does not think it will be long before Elanga gets into Solskjaer’s first XI.
“I’m always happy to help players when they are good lads who want to improve, they want to listen and to learn. Anthony is one of the young players who respects the players that are older than him and the players that have more experience,” Matic told ManUtd.com.
“So I am very happy with the way he improves and the way he is training and playing in games.
“So I think he is a very important player for us, in the future, as I see him in the first XI in the next upcoming seasons.
“I don’t know what is the secret of the United Academy but, every year, they bring a couple of top players to the first team.”
Meanwhile, Solskjaer has opened up on which players will be available this weekend. United face Liverpool in a huge clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.
At the pre-match press conference, Solskjaer said: “I’ll give everyone time, I hope I can pick from a fully fit squad, I might be without two or three. Bruno [Fernandes] might be a doubt but he’s doing everything he can to be ready.”
When asked about Jurgen Klopp’s men, Solskjaer added: “They’re on a great run of form, some individual skills that you cannot almost defend against but as a team, we have to be compact, aggressive and give every single drop of nous, knowledge, strong mindset, physical energy.