Manchester United must keep Facundo Pellistri as the club prepares for next season.
The Uruguayan winger achieved some major milestones for United last season as the Red Devils managed a third-place finish in the Premier League and won the Carabao Cup.
Pellistri finally made his senior debut for United, more than two years after he arrived at Old Trafford from Penarol.
He managed four appearances in the Premier League, all of which came as a substitute. He played a total of seven games in all competitions. He started just once in the Europa League.
While he did not register a goal, Pellistri had a few notable displays from the bench that caught the eye.
Whenever called upon by Ten Hag, the United number 28 came on and with the limited time he was afforded on the pitch, showed what he can do with his direct style of running.
Pellistri must be allowed to develop at United rather than be loaned out.
A sale for the forward has almost certainly been ruled out. In fact, it has been suggested that he is in line for a new contract at the Theatre of Dreams – such is the level of promise and potential Ten Hag sees in the Uruguayan.
Ten Hag has made no secret of his admiration for Pellistri and the heights the young star can reach if properly nurtured. The player must be allowed to show his talents at United.
The right-wing position, where Pellistri naturally thrives, does not have a fixed heir currently as with many other positions. Antony starts most games but the Brazilian is not irreplaceable.
United have a crop of youngsters including Amad Diallo and Pellistri knocking on the door and Antony’s spot is not 100 per cent secure.
Pellistri has what it takes to produce a breakthrough campaign similar to what Alejandro Garnacho managed last term.
The 21-year-old is rapid and very direct, can go both on the outside and inside and is extremely intelligent. Pellistri is also adept at beating his man and putting in superb balls inside the box – something that is frustratingly lacking in Antony’s game.
Pellistri can hold his own with the big boys at United and prove his mettle. After all, he is a full-fledged international and an established member of the senior team.
This prominence can be translated onto United if chances follow. Pre-season will be crucial for Pellistri as it may force Ten Hag’s hand into giving him more of a look-in next season and elevating his status within the United set-up.
With United also working with a tight transfer budget, which may limit the number of attacking players that may be signed in the current transfer window, it makes sense to retain Pellistri for sufficient and quality cover across the front positions.
United arguably need two strikers but this is unlikely to be the case, which may once again force Ten Hag to play the likes of Marcus Rashford at the tip of the attack. This may open a pathway into the side for Pellistri.
The Reds have a gem on their hands and they cannot entrust anyone else with the delicate task of polishing such a talent. Ten Hag and the club must relish this responsibility and one way to do so is to keep Pellistri and use him more next term.