What will happen to Manchester United loanees who impressed last season?
Manchester United's academy has always been renowned for producing high-calibre footballers. Many assumed that mantra would end under Jose Mourinho. That hasn't been the case.
The self-proclaimed Special One has handed regular minutes to Red Devils graduates like Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay, but there were plenty more young United graduates out on loan during 2017/18.
With deals for Fred and Diogo Dalot already secured, that got me thinking. What will happen to potential superstars-in-the-making that are already on the books at Old Trafford? Arguably the two best success stories over the last twelve months were midfielder Andreas Pereira and full-back Timothy Fosu-Mensah. I'll give you one guess what positions United's summer signings play in...
Let's start with the fully-fledged Netherlands international Fosu-Mensah. The 20-year-old Dutchman spent the season with Premier League side Crystal Palace, playing 24 games across all competitions. It was an impressive loan deal for the man who made his United debut under Louis van Gaal, but did he do enough to convince the self-proclaimed Special One to take a gamble on him? I'm not so sure.
Both Fosu-Mensah and Dalot are primarily right-backs. Although the pair are versatile, only one will likely play back-up to Antonio Valencia. My guess would be the 19-year-old from Portugal will get the nod. Otherwise why else would Mourinho spend £20million to bring him to Manchester?
You may argue that Fosu-Mensah is good enough to earn his minutes as a centre-back for United, but somehow, I doubt he'll be able to force his way past Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and possibly another potential summer signing? Unfortunately, it seems as though the only way is out. We're talking about a player who's shown he's good enough to start with regularity and he'll hardly be happy with another loan move...
It seems as though Pereira is headed in the same direction as his Dutch counterpart. After impressing on pre-season tour twelve months ago, the Brazil U23 international found himself signing a short-term deal in La Liga for the second time in two seasons. This term, he was plying his trade for Valencia CF.
The 22-year-old played 29 times for the Spanish giants, scoring once. His year wasn't as impressive as the one previous, for which he was the star of the show for a struggling Granada team. Still, it was a good experience for a man whom the club had high hopes for. Now he returns to United, in a similar situation that he has found himself in before.
Minutes are going to be hard to come by. Although versatile, his best position is out on the left-wing. We all know how stacked the Red Devils are in that position. He could move into the #10 role, but is he better than Lingard or Juan Mata? Unfortunately for him, that's a resounding no.
Players going out on loan has worked for United down the years, with the aforementioned Lingard an excellent example. This summer, though, don't be surprised to see both Fosu-Mensah and Pereira move on. Sure, they may go on to enjoy excellent careers, but the writing certainly seems to be on the wall for the pair. Mourinho's already signed two players, whereas the self-proclaimed Special One has been a keen onlooker at Austria and Romania games recently. He's a coach who lives for the here-and-now. That's not going to change whether the Old Trafford faithful like it or not...