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Alejandro Garnacho – the rise of Manchester United’s super talent: A matter of attitude



Erik ten Hag thinks highly of Alejandro Garnacho.

Despite the hearty 7-0 defeat of Liverpool in the Premier League, success has returned to Manchester United this season. In addition to the numerous superstars in the team, there is also a talent from our own ranks that gives us hope for a future full of titles: Alejandro Garnacho.

It’s the 90th minute when suddenly there’s no holding back at the legendary Old Trafford. Just three days after winning the first title since 2017 (Carabao Cup, 2-0 win over Newcastle United), Manchester United fans are once again in exuberant embrace. After falling 0-1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup, however, it wasn’t one of the current high-flyers like Marcus Rashford, who caused ecstasy with a beautiful flick from the left-hand position into the far corner to make it 2-1, but for the NXGN Nine nominated Alejandro Garnacho.

The super talent, who, unlike most of his teammates, also went through parts of United’s youth academy, afterwards – not only because of his goal – the award as “Man of the Match”. Garnacho, who moved from Atlético Madrid to Manchester for half a million euros in 2020, is one of coach Erik ten Hag’s personal projects close to his heart. The Dutchman had called the left winger, who can also play right, into the professional squad this season and has played regularly since then, despite the high level of competition.

“I see another step today. I said to him before the game: ‘It’s time. You have an impact when you come into the game, but now you have to have an impact as a regular’. And I think he does able to do that, so that’s the next step he has to take,” ten Hag explained of his plans with the right foot.

For the 18-year-old it was the fourth professional goal in 29 competitive games in which he mostly came off the bench with a few exceptions like against West Ham. There are also five assists. For comparison: 95 million euro new signing and ten-Hag desired player Antony has one scorer point (seven goals, one assist) less in his account with one more bet and significantly more playing time.

Ten Hag was particularly taken with the way Garnacho behaved on the pitch against his often much more experienced opponents. “It’s a great skill when you’re fearless, when you’re brave. There aren’t that many players in world football who can take on players who can just dribble them out and he has that skill. But he has more skills than just that, for example the degree,” said the United coach.

The 53-year-old also raved about the Madrilenian’s “motor”: “He’s fast, he’s got pace, he can run for 90 minutes, 120 minutes, it doesn’t matter how long, he can do it.”

Alejandro Garnacho: FC Bayern is also showing interest

According to several specialized databases, Garnacho’s market value has already increased tenfold (five million euros) with regard to his transfer fee at the time. Apart from the rather less important milkmaid calculation compared to his enormous potential, the Red Devils are already working on a contract extension. The contract, which runs in 2024, is said to be extended to 2028 for significantly better references. With an annual salary of 400,000 euros, he is one of the low earners in his club. In addition, ManUnited wants to avoid losing the possible future figurehead to the competition from Europe by all means.

According to reports from England, several top clubs have already had their eye on Garnacho. In addition to Real Madrid and PSG, which also wants to rejuvenate or strengthen its offensive due to the unclear future of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, FC Bayern should also show interest. In Munich, for example, the attacker could inherit one of the two recently disappointing Serge Gnabry or Leroy Sané in the long run. However, it is unlikely that the German record champions will plan a transfer attack before his contract expires. A charm offensive by sports director Hasan Salihamidzic would be more likely to convince Garnacho of a free transfer in the summer of 2024 should he not agree on further cooperation with Manchester.

However, Garnacho is well advised not to let the many praises he is currently receiving turn his head. For a long time, the best example of this was provided by Cristiano Ronaldo, who, both at a young age in Manchester and later as a title collector at Real Madrid, always strived for improvement and drove himself to peak performances week after week. Already in the first half of the season, when Ronaldo was in northwest England before his scandalous interview and at times hardly played a role under ten Hag, comparisons were drawn between Garnacho and the Portuguese.

Club legend Gary Neville recalled a Ronaldo strike in 2007, following Garnacho’s last-minute winner against Fulham FC in November (2-1), when he made a similar Marnier move from the left into the penalty area and sent the ball home spectacularly. The fact that Garnacho does not take the multiple world footballer as a role model for everything was shown by his subsequent celebration: he took off his jersey and pointedly raised it in the direction of the United fans. Possibly an allusion to what is probably the most iconic celebration of CR7 rival Lionel Messi after his winning goal in 3: 2 for FC Barcelona against Real Madrid in 2017. Curious: A few days earlier he had scored his debut goal as a United professional in the 1-0 Win against Real Sociedad in the Europa League still imitated Ronaldo.

Alejandro Garnacho: attitude problems and arrogant?

Even months later, Garnacho still hasn’t been able to shake off his tendency to provoke. After reaching the round of 16 of the Europa League, he posted a picture on his social channels showing him with the typical Pedri jubilation. The Barça gem was absent from his side’s 2-1 draw through injury, with Garnacho only contributing marginally after coming on as a substitute in the 82nd minute. Unsurprisingly, the comments afterwards spoke of arrogance and a bad attitude. Former Argentina international Carlos Morete also accused him of being “rude and not modest”: “I hope he shuts up and doesn’t talk nonsense anymore. He still has a lot to learn.”

The latter had slowed him down massively in the recent past. “Obviously he’s still very young, he’s doing really well. At the beginning of the season he wasn’t at his best. On the tour (summer preparation; editor’s note) he didn’t have the best attitude that he could have and that’s why he hasn’t gotten his chances so far,” revealed Bruno Fernandes shortly after Garnacho’s breakthrough in early November. A nod to the youngster after his disappointing start to the season, who wasn’t allowed to play a single minute between days 2 and 14 and sometimes didn’t even make it into the squad.

“He didn’t get any chances before because he wasn’t good enough in training and mentally,” continued Fernandes. During this time, however, Garnacho understood that talent alone is not enough. “He has changed,” assured the 28-year-old. Ten Hag saw it that way too, which is why Garnacho was used regularly.

Thanks to Garnacho’s new mindset on and off the pitch, apart from his controversial imitations of celebration, there has been talk of Ronaldo’s heir in connection with his name on numerous occasions in recent weeks. Fellow player Fred even predicts a similar ability for him: “He will definitely be one of the best players in the world.” In addition, world champion coach Lionel Scaloni rewarded him with an appointment for the Argentine national team. Even if an injury that is not yet known – most recently Garnacho was walking on crutches – prevents him from traveling with him, he seems to have finally arrived in world football. It’s all a matter of attitude.

Manchester United: Attackers compared in 2022/23

  • All figures come from
player competitive matches Gates assists game minutes
Alejandro Garnacho 29 4 5 1,061
antony 30 7 1 2.117
Anthony Martial 14 6 2 722
Anthony Elanga 24 0 2 672
Jadon Sancho 25 5 1 1,444
Marcus Rashford 44 27 9 3,291
Wout Weghorst 18 2 2 1,345