Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho scores a superb goal for Argentina as they continue their brilliant run

Manchester United starlet Alejandro Garnacho continued his meteoric rise this summer with a number of standout performances for Argentina’s U20s at the 2022 Toulon Tournament.

The 17-year-old Argentine had a great breakout season through United’s youth ranks in 2021/22 before being brought into the senior fold in the later stages of the campaign.

Garnacho led the Reds’ U18s to FA Youth Cup glory with a brace in the 3-1 final win over Nottingham Forest in May before recording 11 minutes in United’s final game of the season, a 1 loss -0 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. He’s been in the matchday squad several times before – including a first cameo in stoppage time against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

The shrewd winger, who turns 18 on July 1, flew in to represent the Albiceleste U20 side in the popular youth tournament full of confidence and it showed profusely in his performances.

After remaining relatively quiet in the tournament opener, Garnacho came to life in the second game – scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Panama. The Academy star latched onto an excellent through ball with a run behind the opposition backline before placing a neat right-footed effort into the top right corner.

Alejandro Garnacho with the Argentina Under-20s (Alamy)

A spectacular individual performance followed as Argentina were put to the sword by France, 6-2. Garnacho restored some pride to the South Americans with a superb double. The first was the highlight – a peach of a free-kick strike from 25 yards out that deflected into the top left corner. The second was a coldly inserted penalty.

Garnacho’s fourth in as many games came in a 3-2 win over Japan. United’s emerging star put his side ahead in the first half with a trademark finish after receiving the ball just outside the box inside the left channel. At the defender’s square, Garnacho turned his opponent inside and out before drilling a low left-footed effort past the keeper. A move eerily similar to his second goal against Forest.

The Argentine youngster’s international antics will be a treat with his representatives as a new contract to reward his development is currently under discussion.

Garnacho’s development follows an upward trajectory, similar to that of many outstanding United academy talents of the past. The 17-year-old has just won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award – an honor previously claimed by Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga.

Naturally, being highly touted at this age doesn’t mean much right now. There is still a lot of work to do. But the number of early successes Garnacho has had should bode very well for the future.

An inspiring last year also included a senior call-up to Argentina after spending the first half of his teenage years as a young Spain international. Garnacho was born in Madrid but his performances at United prompted Argentinian officials to take advantage of his dual nationality and invite him to train with Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and more.

At this point, it looks like Garnacho has almost pledged his loyalty to the two-time World Cup winners and 15-time Copa America champions. There are certainly worse circumstances than being mentored by Messi at international level and Cristiano Ronaldo at the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave 17-year-old Alejandro Garnacho his hat trick after facing Norwich City (Alamy)
Cristiano Ronaldo gave 17-year-old Alejandro Garnacho his hat trick after facing Norwich City (Alamy)

It remains to be seen how quickly Garnacho’s contract negotiations with United will be resolved, but as of now nothing less than a new and improved deal is expected.

History suggests that every position of United boss Sir Alex had a promising youngster they brought into the first team with them. David Moyes had Adnan Januzaj, Louis van Gaal had Rashford, Jose Mourinho had Scott McTominay, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had Mason Greenwood and more recently Ralf Rangnick has shown a ton of confidence in Elanga.

Time will tell if Garnacho will be Erik ten Hag’s choice. With the squad undergoing a makeover, the teenager features prominently on United’s pre-season tour and it shouldn’t be the least bit of a surprise if he finds his way into the Dutch coaches’ plans.

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