This season Manchester United look to have taken full advantage of the loan system in place this season, sending 15 players out on loan to various clubs within the country, and some abroad. United have a past of making good use of the loan system to develop promising players within the academy and getting them acclimatised to the pace and harshness of the adult leagues. A key example of this being David Beckham’s loan to Preston North End in 1995. So how are this seasons loanees getting on?
Andreas Pereira – Flemengo
Pereira is a conundrum for many United fans as he is a player who has shown signs of immense ability but has never managed to be consistent when given the chance in United’s first team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave the Brazilian ample opportunity in the 2019/20 season, consistently starting the Academy player in midfield, however, the midfielder only managed two goals and four assists in 40 appearances for United.
After the singing of Bruno Fernandes, who plays in the same position as Pereira, United deciding a loan was the best thing for the player. After a disappointing loan spell at Lazio last season, the Brazilian decided to play in his native country, choosing to play for Flamengo.
The playmaker has played 10 games for the Brazilian club, netting two goals and one assist. While these numbers are not disastrous, it is worrying that in a league that is far below the standard of the Premier League Pereira is not shining and standing out. Interestingly, the loan deal does include a £20 million option to buy, should the midfielder be a success at the club.
With the way things are going at Manchester United, it would not surprise any Manchester United fan is the Academy player were to stay at Flemengo and leave Manchester for good.
For now, the loan spell is seemingly average. 5/10.
Facundo Pellistri – Deportivo Alaves
Pellistri was possibly the most surprising signing United made in the 2020 summer transfer window, with the winger being signed on deadline day for around £10 million. Pellistri was an unknown to United fans who were eager to see what the winger could do.
United have sent the youngster on two consecutive loans to Alaves in La Liga, last season he made 12 appearancesfor the club but managed no attacking returns during this time. However, Pellistri was sent during January so did not have a full season to bed in and show his ability.
This season, United did not hesitate in sending Pellistri back to the La Liga outfit, making sure he was there for the start of the season ready to hit the ground running. It would seem as though the Uruguayan is not in favour at the club, having only made seven appearances this season most of which coming off the bench.
His total appearances add up to only 195 minutes so far. This loan has been so disappointing that reports have begun emerging this week that Manchester United are considering recalling Pellistri prematurely, this is due to a concern over lack of playing time and a clause that was in the loan agreement stating that United had the power to recall the player in December 2020 if he has not played 1000 minutes for the club by December, as reported by The Mirror.
This has been a disappointing start to his loan for Pellistri. 2/10.
Brandon Williams – Norwich City
Brandon Williams is a player who burst onto the scene at United in the 2019/20 season, with Solskjaer giving the fullback from the academy 2,439 minutes across all competitions. During his breakout season the Academy player managed one goal and two assists, but also racked up 10 yellow cards during this season, which comes as no surprise to United fans who know of the youngster’s temperament.
Even so it was a positive break out season for the left back and many United fans thought he was here to stay as a back-up for Luke Shaw. The following season however, Williams played much less, playing only 658 minutes all season. This being the main reason why United fans were not surprised to hear the Academy player had been sent on loan to fellow Premier League club Norwich this season to gain playing time.
Norwich is seemingly the perfect fit for a player like Williams as he is guaranteed playing time but is still playing at the same level, he would be had he stayed at United. However, Norwich have gotten off to a very rocky start, having lost all of their six opening games in the season and drawing their seventh, sitting rock bottom of the League with one point.
Williams was starting every game in the league, getting full 90 minutes under his belt, that is, before the Burnley game. Williams was benched for the Burnley game and did not make an appearance off the bench. Once more, this is the only game of the season in which Norwich have kept a clean sheet, and it came without Williams in their defence. Hopefully, after the international break, Williams will be back in the starting eleven, gaining valuable experience at the highest level.
So far, despite Norwich’s poor form, Williams has been playing many minutes for a Premier League club, which is a success. 8/10.
Axel Tuanzebe – Aston Villa
Tuanzebe is a player who has been on the radar of United fans for many years. In the past the centre back has had very successful loans, even gaining promotion to the Premier League while on loan at Aston Villa in the 2018/19 season. After this loan spell Tuanzebe was kept in the United squad with hopes the Academy graduate could start to break into the first team.
However, his 2019/20 campaign was plagued with injuries with the centre back picking up a hip injury, a thigh injury and an ankle injury all at various points of the season. This limited his playing time significantly, only managing 701 first team minutes that season.
The following season was slightly better for the defender who made 19 appearances for United across all competitions and racked up 918 minutes, however, this was not nearly enough playing time for the defender to develop sufficiently, and with the signing of elite centre back Raphael Varane in the 2021 summer transfer window, club and player decided another season on loan would be to the benefit of all parties.
So far, the loan has been decent for Tuanzebe, with the defender having already played three full games in the League, something that would not have happened at United this season and has been a key part of the Villa defence.
It must also be noted that Aston Villa are a team with strong players in their defence such as Tyrone Mings, meaning Tuanzebe does not walk into their starting elven every week, as can be seen by the fact he was benched in the last game before the international break against Tottenham Hotspur. This competition for places is good for the defender as it ingrains a work ethic and desire to break into the starting eleven every week, something that will benefit him on his return to United.
Starting for strong Premier League clubs is a very good sign. 8/10.
Connor Stanley – Atlanta United 2
The 19-year-old winger surprised many by choosing a loan deal to MLS outfit, Atlanta United’s second team, Atlanta United 2, to develop his skills. The winger seemed overjoyed about the loan stating ‘I am so happy and excited about the opportunity ahead of me’, as was reported by Manchester United. The winger certainly seems to be enjoying life in the USL Championship, having made 25 appearances, scoring one goal and getting three assists.
However, there are question marks over this loan. Most notably, whether experience in the second tier of the MLS is experience that will benefit the player on his return the England. Fans must wonder if a loan to a lower League English club, or European Club, would have been much more beneficial.
The playing time is good, but the league leaves a lot to be desired. 5/10.
Nathan Bishop – Mansfield Town
United’s Academy goalkeeper Bishop is on loan at League Two outfit Mansfield, and has started every game he has been available for, playing the full 90 minutes every time. He has only managed one clean sheet, however, in a League such as League Two, clean sheets are always hard to come by. The fact he is starting every game is a very good sign and is invaluable for a young keeper. It may be a baptism of fire but playing in tough leagues is often crucial for the development of a keeper.
Manchester United fans should be pleased that Bishop is gaining crucial experience. 7/10.
Dylan Levitt – Dundee United
After two disappointing loan spells last season for Levitt, To Charlton Athletic and Croatian club NK Istra, Manchester United fans were hopeful that a full campaign in the Scottish Premiere League would restart the development of the midfielder, who has always shown great promise in the Academy.
So far, this loan has gotten off to a better start than the previous one at Charlton Athletic, with Levitt making an appearance in every league game he has been available for. He has made seven appearances across all competitions, racking up 592 minutes already. He is being played primarily as a central defensive midfielder, which means he has made no attacking contributions so far, however, this is not the main focus for a player in this position.
So far in the league Dundee have been a mixed back, winning three, drawing two and losing one of their games so far, this is valuable for Levitt as he can not only develop his skills in a tough league but also understand the highs and lows of the game.
United fans should be happy that this loan deal looks to be working out much better than the ones previously for Levitt, let’s hope it stays that way. 7/10.
James Garner – Nottingham Forest
James Garner was a loan success story last season, after switching from Watford to Nottingham Forest in January of last year, Garner became a vital player for the Championship club. He played a huge 1,700 minutes for the club across all competitions, making 20 appearances as scoring four goals from a defensive midfielder position. The Forest fans loved Garner and reacted extremely positive when a second loan deal for the 2021/22 season was announced, as was reported by The Nottingham Post, with some fans stating the club ‘really need him’.
Garner himself was pleased by the opportunity to go on loan a second time to the club stating, ‘I’m ready to go and showcase my ability to everyone’. However, there has been cause for concern after manager Chris Houghton was sacked by the club after taking just one point from the clubs first seven games of the season, as reported by Sky Sports.
This does not seem to have affected Garner who has started every game in the Championship, besides the most recent game against Birmingham City in which he came on as a substitute. He has made no attacking returns yet, but for a defensive midfielder that is not cause for concern.
United fans will hope that Garners most recent substitute appearance does not become a regular thing for the midfielder, but having started all other games for Forest, there is no concern just yet. 7/10.
Ethan Laird – Swansea City
Last season Laird shone on loan at MK Dons in League One, making 24 appearances and getting four assists from right back. This season United wanted the academy payer to have a step up in difficulty, this time loaning him to Championship club Swansea.
The right back has hit the ground running once again, making 10 appearances in all competitions so far and getting two assists during that time. He has been in the starting XI seven times out of nine in the League and has made substitute appearances both times that he has been benched. The team have kept five clean sheets so far in the League which is extremely impressive and Laird has been a key part of the defensive unit that has achieved this.
It seems to be so far so good for the defender, with the step up to the Championship having seemingly not affected the 20-year-old at all. 8/10.
Tahith Chong – Birmingham City
There can be no doubt about it, so far this season, Tahith Chong is United’s biggest loan success story. After two rocky loan spells last season to Werder Bremen and Club Brugge respectively, Chong has worked hard and earnt a loan to Championship club Birmingham and has hit the best form of his career since playing in the Academy.
He has started every single league game that he has been available for, making 10 appearances across all competitions and getting two assists during this time. However, stats alone cannot paint the whole picture of just how well Chong has settled into life at Birmingham. ESPN recently reported that United legend Wayne Rooney has commented on Chong’s performances at Birmingham stating Chong is a ’very talented player who can really hurt you’,the report also noted that Solskjaer had been in touch with Chong over his fantastic performances in the Championship, letting the youngster know that he is watching.
It is seemingly a loan deal match made in heaven for Chong who has completely hit his stride. 10/10.
Ethan Galbraith – Doncaster Rovers
Galbraith is another Academy player who has been on the radar of United fans for quite some time, so when it was announced at the start of the season that Galbraith would be playing his football on loan at Doncaster Rovers in League One, fans were intrigued to see how the player got on in the competitive league.
It is fair to say that the 20 year old has settled in to life in League One very well, he has started every game in the league that he has been available for, playing the full 90 minutes in all games bar one in the league.
This shows a high level in trust from the manager to play a young player in the heart of the midfield in a league as tough as League One, this insinuates that Galbraith is more than holding his own. He has also managed one assistduring this time, which from midfield, is impressive.
United fans will be hoping the young midfielder will go from strength to strength and keep up his strong form. 9/10.
Di’Shon Bernard – Hull City
20-year-old Bernard had a disappointing spell on loan at Salford City last season where he barely played. This season the player had made a huge step up to the Championship, which is seeming to pay off. Out of the 11 league games the young defender has been available for, he has started six, playing the full 90 minutes each time.
Loan deals are notoriously tough for young defenders as managers are often hesitant to trust inexperienced players in defence, especially in leagues such as the Championship in which every point is hard fought for.
The trust shown in Bernard insinuates that he has impressed his manager and his teammates and has been given the opportunity off the back of this. So far Bernard has helped keep two clean sheets for Hull, a number he will be wanting to build upon before his loan ends.
United fans should be certainly keeping an eye on Bernard as one for the future. 7/10.
Overall, it looks positive for United’s loanees this season, with many gaining valuable playing time in respectable leagues. It should be noted that there are three other United youngsters out on loan who have not played enough to be considered here. Will Fish at Stockport County, D’Mani Mellor at Salford City and Reece Devine at St Johnstone. Hopefully these youngsters can break into their loan clubs and make an impression soon.
Written by Jennifer McCord