Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has urged Alejandro Garnacho to compete for a regular starting role after putting pen-to-paper on a new long-term contract.
The 18-year-old has had a wonderful breakthrough season with the Red Devils, registering four goals and five assists from just over 1,000 minutes of first-team football.
His progress was stunted in March due to an ankle injury but the Argentine should be involved in the forthcoming Premier League games as well as the FA Cup final.
Speaking in today’s press conference, Ten Hag said that Garnacho has received a prize for his recent showing and he must now compete for a starting position.
He told reporters via Manutd.com: “First of all, I think he has the prize and it’s a prize and he also shows he can make the final steps.”
“Not only the talent but also he made it. But now it’s a new start, a restart, and now the expectations will be higher. The demands will be higher and he has come this way.
“He has a strong character and that is why he is there in the moment, on this level and he did it by himself. But now it is coming, [there is] more work to go, because the demands are higher.
“We expect more from him, but it is great he made it because it [shows] that we will give young players opportunities – but they have to deserve it. So when I say give, [this is] translated to deserve.
“And for Alejandro, he is that step beyond, but now the demands will be even more because now he must compete for a starting XI position.”
How Garnacho could secure a starting spot under Ten Hag
Garnacho had a difficult pre-season under Ten Hag and he was dropped from a friendly game in Australia after reporting late for a couple of team meetings.
His attitude has improved over the course of the current campaign and he now needs to impress on the training pitch consistently to get the nod in the XI.
Meanwhile, the Argentine may have to adapt to the right wing during his development phase.
Marcus Rashford has been almost an undisputed starter from the left wing and he could cement the spot next term with United expected to land a marquee striker.
Hence, Garnacho’s chances of breaking into the line-up ahead of Rashford are pretty slim but he could have a better opportunity of displacing Antony.
The Brazilian star has shown glimpses of his potential from his Ajax days but he has yet to get to grips with the demands of the Premier League.
Garnacho has played on the right flank in the youth ranks in the past and his chances of becoming a regular could be from the right side of the attack.
Aside from this, the youngster will need to build better chemistry with his teammates. Hopefully, the teenager will become a regular starter by next season.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com