Arnau Puigmal could become a free-kick king for Manchester United

Arnau Puigmal finalised his move to Manchester United move in the summer from Spanish club Espanyol, the clearance on the moving coming last month after his paperwork was sorted out by the regulating bodies. Puigmal is a player the Academy has brought in to help create some new stars of the future, which has been prevalent since Nicky Butt took over as the head more than a year ago. It was not that long ago when United’s U18’s lost twelve consecutive matches in the U18 Premier League, which saw the end of Paul McGuinness and the start of something new.

Puigmal, one of this summer’s arrivals made his debut against Newcastle United the weekend before last, scoring a beautiful free-kick, which has resulted in the player working hard to develop his free-kick technique. U18 coach Kieran McKenna, brought in last season to replace McGuinness, has done wonders with his team, seeing them as title challengers at a stage last season, which was a big improvement from the previous season. This season, with some players making the step up to the U23’s, the U18’s have new faces which will force a settling in period, which is not going all that badly.

Puigmal has played within Spain’s youth teams, which will be something that would help him become the player he wants to be. McKenna, speaking to the official Manchester United website, talked about the 16-year-old developing his free-kick, which is something he does at international level too, taking set-pieces from time to time. The U18 coach said:

“Free-kicks are something he likes practising. He takes them for his national team quite a bit and likes to practise shooting after, before and during training! He likes to hit the back of the net, especially from that sort of range. It’s something he’ll keep working on to try to become a real specialist on set-pieces from all areas.”

Puigmal’s debut against Newcastle was a great start for the youth player, who will no doubt use it to boost his confidence and press on throughout the season. The young Spaniard helped to earn his U18 side a draw Finch Farm against Everton at the weekend, their second draw in a fortnight. Five matches have been played in the league this season, United winning one, drawing twice and losing twice. In the U18 Premier League Cup, United beat Arsenal 4-3, after coming from behind, Puigmal not playing past in any matches other than the last two – both draws. McKenna continued by saying:

“We are really pleased with him. I think it was a big challenge to come in to a game like that as Newcastle are a physical, strong team who were experienced with a lot of second years.

“He is still a young guy, he’s just turned 16 this year, and adapted really well to the physical side of the game. He showed a lot of good things technically and obviously popped up with a great goal as well. He could not have got off to a much better start.

“I’m sure he would have liked us to have seen out the game and made that goal the winner but it wasn’t to be. However, he’s off and running now and I’m sure he’s looking forward to getting stuck into more games.”

Puigmal has high hopes in the world of football, being spotted by United’s scouting staff in a display against the club in the Med Cup tournament. At 16, the Spaniard has a lot of settling in to do, and during a pre-season training camp in Austria, he got to know his new teammates, helping to create a bond within the team, which will be needed throughout the season if this side is to become anything like the teams of the years gone by. Manchester United supporters are right to be excited, there is certainly some talent in the Academy, which is partly to do with Butt, since he became the Head of the Academy, seeing the weaknesses and where the club needed to move forward.

The young Spaniard has been compared to Andreas Pereira, a player seeing the season on loan in La Liga again, this time at Valencia. Puigmal will be a player to feast your eyes on throughout the campaign, as if his development of his free-kicks goes to plan, there could be something special at bay. McKenna also spoke about the player practising his shooting skills after training, which is good to see.

Some young players seem to think you can get to where you want to be easily, but like George Best and David Beckham, also many players before, in between and after, putting in the extra effort will pay off. It did for both Beckham and Best, who practised in their spare time, Best kicking a tennis ball at door handles, Beckham perfecting his famous free-kick ability. The future is bright for both Manchester United and Arnau Puigmal.

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