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How Manchester United have done a disservice to Facundo Pellistri

The youngster shines for his national team, but is yet to make a competitive appearance for his club

by Seth Dooley

A young player brought to Manchester with hopes of stardom, Facundo Pellistri appears to be eager to exit the club in January.

Signed in the summer of 2020, the Uruguayan winger has yet to make a competitive first team appearance for Manchester United. It can, therefore, be no surprise to read reports that he is manoeuvering his way out.

Pellistri has been named consistently as part of United’s matchday squad this season. With Erik ten Hag not even entering him onto the pitch to see out the final minutes of a Carabao Cup fixture, it can be assumed that his role on the bench is a result of the lacking squad depth.

Not affording the youngster the chance to see some minutes in a competition of lesser significance is not the only time United have made his career a struggle.

Upon signing for €10 million from Peñarol, Pellistri was shipped out to La Liga side Alaves six months later. United decided against nuturing his promosing young talent for any longer than was necessary.

He had shown his ability to speak English to a good standard during his first interview with the in-house media, and with such sending him to a Spanish-speaking country seemed rather obnoxious.

A teenager made the courageous decision to join a club on the other side of the world. He could not have felt in the same position as, for example, Tahith Chong who moved from a fellow European country and spent a number of years progressing within the Academy.

Although United may have been keen to jumpstart Pellistri’s development and the La Liga side were the only major option, they effectively ruled out any chance of him to assimilate into his new city and learn about the culture of the Club.

In the same window where Pellistri moved on loan to Alaves, Teden Mengi was sent to Derby County. Negotiating such an opportunity for Pellistri would have proved much more positive for his integration into a new country and new footballing culture.

The thing that staggers: Pellistri has performed profitably when presented with the opportunities. Already a mainstay within Uruguay’s senior national team, he will be expected to play a key role in the country’s World Cup campaign.

This is as a result of the excellent displays he has put in for his nation. He was initially called-up to the squad for his promising performances during his second spell on loan at Alaves. His agent has already indicated that the 20-year-old is eyeing up a fruitful period in Qatar to put himself in the Winter transfer shop window.

When presented the chance to don the famous Red shirt during pre-season, Pellistri has also shown very positive signs. With such, it is strange how he has not been seen competitively this year given the staggeringnumber of problems (injuries; form; Ronaldo-Gate) within United’s forward line options.

United have dealt with another South American youngster in similar fashion before. Guillermo Varela was also bought from Peñarol. The Uruguayan was then sent on loan to Real Madrid Castilla (their equivalent to Under-21s) for a season. Varela could never hold down a place in United’s first team, despite impressing during limited opportunities under Louis van Gaal. Sent on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt, his development faltered – serving as an indictment on United’s ability to progress South American talents. Pellistri seems like another similar case.

There is a clear lack of concern for these youngsters, who pack their lives up and move to the other side of the world. Youngsters who show promise, but need to yet be instilled with the drive and mentality with which the Stretford End associates. Pellistri is another example of a player whose career may lead United into lamenting, once again, ‘should have, could have, would have.’

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