Manchester United have had one of the more eye-catching summer transfer windows in recent history. Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived on deadline day and it will be expected that the Portuguese club legend will start matches immediately. Jadon Sancho is slowly getting up to speed, while Edinson Cavani is now back in the reckoning for starts. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot of attacking options available to him and it will be crucial that he can find the right combination.
One player that needs to continue to be given prominent minutes is Mason Greenwood. The young forward has started the season in fantastic form with a goal in each game to date. He has always been spoken about as a good finisher and he has shown that already in the opening three matches. The teenager can be used on either flank or as a central striker, which provides options for Solskjaer.
Ronaldo’s arrival means that Greenwood is unlikely to play centrally, but he should be given one of the wide forward roles for the foreseeable future. Sancho looked short of match fitness against Wolves and should be eased into Premier League football. Marcus Rashford is still recovering from injury, while Dan James has left to join Leeds United.
There should still be three or four games for Greenwood to prove why he needs to be a regular starter for United this season. Although there has been inconsistency in his performances since his breakthrough to the first team, he has reached 20 Premier League goals before hitting 20. Few other teenagers have done this. In fact, only Wayne Rooney, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen have scored more Premier League goals as a teenager.
This is why Manchester United fans believe Greenwood is a special talent who needs to play. Prior to the arrival of Ronaldo, he has been their most consistent attacker in the opening three matches. There is reason to believe he could be taking another step forwards in his career and Solskjaer shouldn’t get in the way of that.
Greenwood is averaging 3.67 shots and 1.33 key passes per ninety minutes in the 2021/22 season. It is a small sample size, but it underlines the threat he does carry. The 19-year-old is averaging 0.34 expected goals (xG) and 0.14 expected assists (xA) per ninety minutes.
This is similar to his numbers from last season, in which he averaged 0.34 xG and 0.12 xA per ninety minutes. This suggests that he is delivering a consistency in his underlying numbers. They are impressive for a teenager and they are only likely to improve with more experience in senior football. His ability to finish with either foot means that he can carry the same threat in any role and that versatility is a strength few others in the squad possess.
It was a slight surprise that he wasn’t called into the England squad for this international break, but it should mean he keeps his place in the United team. He is one of the few staying at Old Trafford, which means he will be fresh for the Newcastle United match in a couple of weeks time.
The focus will be on Ronaldo over the coming weeks. However, it could be the United teenager that carries on stealing the headlines. Solskjaer must resist the urge to take him out of the team.
Stats taken from Understat