Anthony Elanga has revealed he was “starstruck” when Manchester United were signing Cristiano Ronaldo – but the young forward now has a plan.
Ronaldo recently secured his emotional return to Man Utd after leaving Juventus following a three-year spell in Italy. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner previously spent six successful seasons at Old Trafford, where he honed his talents that were previously seen at Sporting CP.
Now, Ronaldo is back in Manchester, providing an immediate boost to the club thanks to his ability and stature in the game. However, questions have been raised over how Ronaldo’s return will affect some of United’s younger players.
Even though he is 36, it is unthinkable to imagine Ronaldo being a rotation player. Therefore, with the Portugal forward likely to be a regular starter, there may be fewer opportunities for those with less experience.
Of course, United have a proud record of including at least one academy graduate in their matchday squads, stretching back for a very long period of time. But how much such players will see the pitch, only time will tell.
Mason Greenwood is one player who may have some concerns about his gametime. Even more so would be Elanga, who is at an earlier stage of his development.
The Swedish starlet initially joined United’s academy back in 2014. He made two appearances for the first team last season, scoring once. There was the consideration of a loan exit in the summer, but instead he remains in Manchester.
He may have to be patient for opportunities given Ronaldo’s presence, but it is something he is looking to learn from rather than view as an obstacle.
“I was starstruck when I heard he was coming to United,” Elanga told Fotbollskanalen. “But I have calmed myself down a little now.
“I will be looking at everything with Ronaldo. How he does what he does, what he does before and after training. I’ll be asking the questions any other person would.
“He’s won everything with United and knows what it takes to play for the club. He’s a legend.
“I have heard he speaks a lot with young players and I look forward to meeting him.”
Elanga tipped to make breakthrough
Prior to the arrival of Ronaldo, one Man Utd legend suggested Elanga could play an increasing role this season.
The 19-year-old impressed Dennis Irwin in some pre-season friendlies, prompting the treble winner to say: “We’ve got a great tradition of young lads coming through.
“I watched the U23s during the week and [Shola] Shoretire is a talented footballer.
“I’ve got to say Elanga, he’s looked pretty impressive. I watched him against Chelsea in the Youth Cup probably two years ago and I thought he was our standout player.
“You fast forward, he came in and played against Wolves last year, scored a centre-forward’s goal with his head and I thought he’s been a breath of fresh air in pre-season.
“So he’s got a taste of it. There’s huge competition so I don’t know how much of an involvement he’ll have this season. But no doubt he’ll play in League Cups.
“He might just have to bide his time. But I’m sure we’ll see him more and more.”