Watching a teenager making a name for himself is an enthralling experience.
We all want to be that young and that good again, and Mason Greenwood is all that and much more.
The 18-year-old striker has everything that represents what Manchester United look for in a young player – flair, verve, fearlessness and an appetite for goals that is rare for a player of his age.
He represents Matt Busby’s famous words, ‘if they are good enough, they are old enough’.
As a keen follower of Manchester United, I have been hearing about Mason Greenwood for a good couple of years.
Regular observers of youth football have been heaping praise on this two-footed youngster, who was scoring goals for fun at the youth level.
We heard the same kinds of things about Angel Gomes a few years back and he has left the club after failing to get enough game time this season.
Manchester United fans got a glimpse of Greenwood in pre-season last summer and the kid showed enough to suggest that he was on to something (including converting a penalty with his ‘weaker’ foot).
But no one expected Greenwood to become a vital cog in the starting eleven by the end of the season.
With the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez last summer, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a gamble on a young strike force, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford already enjoying the best season of their careers in terms of goals.
But the 13 goals in all competitions for Mason Greenwood has been a surprise for many.
While the teenager was scoring goals and embarrassing defenders for fun at the youth level, the expectations were that he would take some time to show the same efficiency in front of goal for the first team.
Solskjaer has also handled his introduction to the team as carefully as possible and before the COVID-19-enforced break, the Manchester United manager was avoiding the temptation to play him regularly.
But Greenwood has managed to score 13 goals in all competitions this season for the Manchester United first team and going into the last games of the Premier League, it is clear he is part of the best starting eleven for Solskjaer.
His six goals in the Premier League is the highest by a player who is 18 or under since Wayne Rooney’s nine league goals in 2003/04 season for Everton.
What’s next for Mason Greenwood?
Mason Greenwood has displaced Daniel James in the right side of Manchester United’s attack this season.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to invest in that area of the squad when the transfer window opens, and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho is the club’s top target.
Even though Manchester United see Greenwood as a future number 9 for the team, Sancho’s arrival would be a direct challenge for the youngster for a place in the starting eleven.
Solskjaer could argue that having more options in attack will only strengthen his hand as he looks to reestablish Manchester United as a force in English football again.
The Manchester United manager also expects another couple of years before Mason Greenwood develops into a regular starter for the club.
But the youngster has already shown that he can thrive at the top level and will want to play even more minutes next season.
Can he go on a blitz in the next two months to dissuade Solskjaer from spending big money on a player of Jadon Sancho’s ability? How will he react to a big-money signing challenging for a place in the team with him?
These are questions that the youngster will need to answer going into next season if a superstar signing arrives from Dortmund ahead of the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
However, Mason Greenwood’s ability to play anywhere in the frontline could be a massive bonus for him in his quest to feature regularly next season.
The 18-year-old can slot in down the middle and his cross for Bruno Fernandes’ goal against Brighton on Tuesday night showed that he can more than just deliver from the left of a front three as well.
There is a genuine belief at Manchester United that they have a star in the making in Mason Greenwood.
Solskjaer wants to remain as cautious as possible in handling his breakthrough in the first team and has anyone seen the youngster given an interview anywhere to anyone or even a single byte to the media after games? Nope and that is a deliberate strategy from Manchester United.
It shows that the club know what they have on their hands and they are sheltering him with layers of cotton wool around him.
Mason Greenwood will go on to give many interviews and be on the back pages for years to come but for now Manchester United want him to do all the talking on the pitch and boy he can speak!
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