Mason Greenwood received the ball, drove at Diego Rico on the edge of the area before firing an unstoppable drive past Aaron Ramsdale in the AFC Bournemouth goal, with his supposedly weaker right foot. In less than five seconds, Manchester United’s latest teenage sensation had shown what he was all about, close control, frightening ambidextrous, and a lethal finish.
Historically, Manchester United is a club that prides itself on youth, with notable names like the Busby Babes and the Class of 92 among its cornerstones as a club. It also has the much-relished record of featuring a youth team graduate in the matchday squad since 1938. But even for a club so traditionally noted for giving the youth opportunities, Greenwood is regarded as highly special.
In what is only his first full season as a first-team player, Greenwood has already netted sixteen goals, including nine in the league. It is, however, the manner in which most of these goals have been scored that has brought him plaudits.
Famed for his capable usage of both feet right from his days in the academy, Greenwood’s array of strikes with either foot has elevated him to stratospheric levels in the perception of fans and pundits alike and earned comparisons with club greats such as Robin Van Persie for his adeptness with his left foot, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and even the iconic Bobby Charlton.
His exploits on the right-wing of Man United’s three-pronged attack has prompted some observers to conclude that the club doesn’t need to pursue highly-rated Borussia Dortmund winger, Jadon Sancho to solve their lack of quality on the right side of attack, which has been an ulcer since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure eleven years ago.
Such a conclusion is not only premature but also erroneous. For starters, for all of Greenwood’s brilliance, he simply is not a winger. He is a player expected to grow into a centre forward and has only filled out the right-wing spot because Daniel James, who is a left-winger by trade himself, suffered burn out having only joined the club last year and played all the way through the first half of the season.
Keeping him on the right-wing might only serve to stunt his development, which would have negative consequences in the long run. The better decision would be to go ahead and sign Sancho, a natural right-winger, who also happens to be a better creator as his sixteen assists in the previous Bundesliga season testify.
Mason Greenwood is a good player but Manchester United still needs Jadon Sancho none the less
For large swathes of the current season, United looked devoid of ideas in attack and routinely struggled to break down teams that sat deep and defended in numbers. That was supposedly corrected by the January arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon.
Fernandes has swiftly established great partnerships with Paul Pogba in midfield, as well as Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in the attack. However, United have again looked bereft of ideas and lacking in quality whenever any of these players have been substituted, a pointer to a severe lack of depth in attack.
With Alexis Sanchez’s future at Old Trafford all but over and Odion Ighalo’s loan deal due to expire in six months, United could find themselves in trouble once more if, for instance, an injury crisis were to befall them.
This makes the arrival of Sancho, not a mere requirement but rather a necessity if United really want to regain their status as title challengers. Besides, because of his dazzling consistency, it’s quite easy to forget that Greenwood is only eighteen years old and is still in the process of maturing.
Supposing he were to suffer fatigue, it would inevitably be followed by a dip in form, which could do untold damage to the confidence and abilities of one still so young and fragile. The clever thing would be to blend him into the first team gradually over the next few years in order to prevent any unnecessary pressure stopping him from reaching his peak about five years from now.
Furthermore, Jadon Sancho adds a hefty layer of unpredictability to Manchester United’s frontline. Though only aged twenty himself, the Dortmund ace has awed the Bundesliga and the footballing world as a whole with his mazy dribbles, microscopic vision and breathtaking distribution.
Adding him to an attack featuring Rashford on the left, and Martial through the middle, with Greenwood as a more than able back up has the very serious potential of turning Manchester United into an elite attacking force.
It is, therefore important that Ed Woodward and Matt Judge stump up the fee required by Dortmund, reported being a whopping 120 million Euros (UGX 510,557,178,360), and sign the former Manchester City youth team player, not only to strengthen United’s attack but also to avoid overtaxing the precocious Greenwood.
Author: Timothy Ainebyoona
Timothy is a dynamic analyst passionate about news and all things sport.