Manchester United’s gaps in the midfield opens up the opportunity for a number of young players to stake their claim to be included in Erik Ten Hag’s squad for the season.
Here we will follow on from our review of the club’s young defenders to look at which midfielders are most likely to impress the new manager on tour.
The most obvious name on everyone’s lips is James Garner who is returning from a successful loan with Nottingham Forest.
A key figure in the heart of Forest’s midfield, Garner made 49 appearances as he helped his loan club secure promotion to the Premier League.
An all around midfielder, Garner notched four goals and ten assists in all competitions, with the majority of his assists coming from his dangerous set piece deliveries. A known weakness in United’s side.
With discussion among fans regarding whether Garner should go on another loan or not, the young player himself has already spoken about his desire to remain at United for the upcoming season saying “that’s what I’d like to do, go on pre-season and impress. It’s down to me as a player to impress [Ten Hag] and hopefully make a mark.”
To add, the proposed loan of Dean Henderson to Nottingham Forest would rule out a return loan for Garner and may already point to Ten Hag having plans for the England u21s international to bolster what is currently a bare group of midfielders in the first team.
A name often mentioned by youth followers, Mejbri spent the latter stages of the season in Ralf Rangnick’s squad which included a fiery cameo against Liverpool.
A certainty to be involved in pre-season, the Tunisian is most comfortable in an attacking midfield role but has also been used as a left winger for United’s u23s and may be a role used to ease him into the top level of senior football.
With skilful dribbling and commitment to match his talent, Mejbri will undoubtedly catch Ten Hag’s eye. However, with Bruno Fernandes an ever present in United’s side, Donny van de Beek having history with Ten Hag, and the rumoured interest in Christian Eriksen, it will be difficult for Mejbri to find a meaningful amount of playing time.
It will take an exceptional pre-season for the youngster to stake any sort of claim among the competition in the first team in his usual positions.
As a result, a loan move may be on the cards for the 19 year old and regular senior football would be beneficial to the mental side of the game where the teenager has struggled with controlling his temper, regularly picking up bookings, multiple suspensions, and was reported to have been involved in a physical altercation with Alex Telles in training.
Voted as fans player of the year at loan club Dundee United, Levitt took Scotland by storm after a slow start to his senior career.
The Welsh international has also spoken of his desire to return and impress the new manager.
A classy midfielder, Levitt will be hoping Ten Hag may see the similarities he has with Frenkie de Jong and could play an understudy role to the Dutch midfielder if signed.
A deep lying playmaker by trade, Levitt likes to drop deep and control matches, always demanding of the ball as can be seen from him averaging the most passes per match for Dundee United.
The young midfielder has also taken strides in improving his attacking game as he finished with six goals during his loan spell, including some spectacular efforts.
Another deep lying playmaker by trade, Galbraith is coming off the back of a loan with Doncaster Rovers where he impressed heavily in the first half of the season but fell out of favour in the latter stages with a change in manager and couldn’t do enough to save Doncaster from relegation.
Already a senior international for Northern Ireland, he is likely to be involved in at least the early parts of the pre-season simply due to the lack of numbers in midfield.
In a similar situation as Levitt with both coming into the last year of their contracts, they will be battling each other to impress Ten Hag and show they can add much needed depth to the squad.
Failing to impress early could likely see both Galbraith and Levitt moving on this summer in order to find regular football to support their fledgling international careers.
An unlikely contender to be brought on tour but Savage will be sure to do his best to impress in the early stages of pre-season camp with some time before the senior internationals return from their extended breaks.
An elegant midfielder, Savage likes to get on the ball deep and spray passes around but also isn’t shy to take a leaf from his father’s book and get stuck into heavy challenges.
A long shot to breakthrough this season, the more likely scenario is a possible loan or another season with the u23s where Savage will take on a more senior leadership role in the side.
Another outside bet to be involved on the tour, having only recently turned 17. Mainoo was a stand out figure for United’s u18s side last campaign.
An all around midfielder, he has played throughout the midfield from an anchoring defensive midfield role to a number ten role. Taking advantage of his combativeness and powerful runs through the midfield, a box to box role is likely to be his future role.
Unlikely to be involved on the tour, he is certain however to be one of the first names from the academy that club staff will be briefing Ten Hag on and it will not be surprising if he makes a cameo in the first team before the end of the season.