Solskjaer must throw Man Utd prospect in at the deep end this season – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets… 

Talk about a way to introduce yourself. Having featured on that dramatic night in Paris when Manchester United pulled off the unthinkable to knock out PSG in the Champions League, Mason Greenwood has well and truly announced himself as a Red Devil with some scintillating pre-season displays.

The 17-year-old is earning rave reviews for his performances, and it has even led United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to admit that the forward is in line to start against ‘big-six’ rivals Chelsea on the opening day of the Premier League season.

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The Norwegian said: “He’s got a chance to start that one (against Chelsea) definitely. He’s capable, more than capable. He’ll always be there in and around the box creating chances. I won’t say that that’s not a possibility. It’s a good possibility if he keeps going as he does. It’s difficult to keep players out if they keep playing well.”

And it’s easy to see why Solskjaer would find it “difficult” to leave the in-form Greenwood out. Per Wyscout, in the three pre-season games he has featured in against Perth Glory, Leeds and Inter, the teenager has netted two goals and shown he has a keen eye for goal.

Despite operating predominantly from the right-hand side, Greenwood has fired off nine shots in the three games and his much-lauded ability to use both feet has helped him register an impressive nine dribbles too. At 17, it would be so easy for Greenwood to fade into the shadows and let his more experienced teammates drive the action forward.

Instead, the United academy product has taken the game by the scruff of the neck and made it difficult for the opposition. It was therefore no surprise that when the Red Devils were toiling to find the back of the net against Antonio Conte’s resolute Inter, it was Greenwood who stepped off the bench to fire home a sumptuous winner.

The 17-year-old has shown a knack to be in the right place at the right time, and the composure to finish things off for his side. Against Chelsea, that injection of what is still really an unknown quality could be the sort of x-factor United could desperately do with to get the Premier League season up and running.

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